STEALING 18 VISIONS’ IDEAS: A BOOK BY THE 2011 METALCORE SCENE
This post originally appeared on Stuff You Will Hate, but Metal Sucks bossman/18V fan Vince Neilstein pointed out that I didn’t quite cover everything there is to say about 18 VISIONS. It is my mission as a human being to sing the praises of this legendary band, so it appears again here with an Anal Cunt joke in the title, a few small changes on my part, and some additions from Vince — we leave no stone uncovered when it comes to 18 VISIONS OF THE APOCALYPSE! — Sergeant D
In my opinion, one of the greatest tragedies of the late 20th/early 21st century is the demise and corresponding underrappreciation of Orange County metalcore pioneers 18 VISIONS. All jokes aside, I honestly love everything 18V did. I love every album, each for a different reason. And if they didn’t live up to their potential in terms of mainstream popularity, I seriously think it was because they were years ahead of their time — if you can find anyone who played deathcore, did the fashioncore thing, or integrated electronics before they did, it’s news to me. If 18V were ten years younger, they would be bigger than The Devil Wears Prada, Escape The Fate, and every other bands who’s essentially doing stuff they did as a DIY band a decade earlier.
Either way, the band broke up in 2006 after releasing what was, in my opinion, their best album. I got a chance to see them a couple of times on their final tour, supporting Hinder the first time and later at some fest in Christcore-capitol Dayton, Ohio with Damone and Staind. It was fucking sweet, just like every other time I saw them over the previous ten years or so. From day one until the end, 18V never faltered, never listened to the legions of haters that they attracted, and never stopped innovating in ways that still have yet to be completely appreciated or documented.
When I think of 18V, their career can be divided into three phases: 1) Chainreactioncore/Deathcore, 2) Fashioncore, and 3) Mansoncore — and we couldn’t cover 18V without covering phase four, the post-18V bands. In this post, I will share my thoughts on each phase, hopefully inspiring you to love 18V as much as I do!
PHASE 1: Chainreactioncore/Deathcore
While many people think of 18V as the band who ruined hardcore by introducing ghey haircuts and tight black pants to the scene, they don’t get the credit they deserve as the best of of all the CHAINREACTIONCORE bands (close cousin to Showcasecore). Like it or not, 18V was perhaps the first deathcore band — their early shit was ridiculously heavy even by today’s standards, using death metal elements like blast beats and guttural vocals years before it became fashionable for hardcore bands to do so. “Yesterday is Time Killed” is still brutal as fuck, even nearly fifteen years later.
Not sure of the exact vintage of this footage, but I’m guessing 1997 or so? Note James’ Vegan Reich shirt!
I will never get tired of posting this picture of Jame Shart circa 1996 in an Excessive Force shirt — never not funny!! Also pictured are Stuff You Will Hate’s Director of Communications (Latin American division) Jose Galvan and Earth Crisis vocalist/all-around weirdo Karl Beuchner.
Perhaps one of the guys in the band will chime in and shed light on this, but Until The Ink Runs Dry seemed to draw influence from the death-n-roll stylings of Entombed or Dismember. “Wine Em, Dine Em, Sixty Nine Em” is my favorite track, especially the cowbell breakdown at :25. Give this some Joey Sturgiss production and it wouldn’t sound out of place at all today.
You have to remember that back when 18V started, “deathcore” meant something completely different than it does today. 2K11-version deathcore basically means recycling riffs that Killswitch Engage stole from At The Gates’ Slaughter Of The Soul, but SotS didn’t come out until 1995, the same year 18V was born. That’s right jerks, 18V predated not only the entire generation of current deathcore bands, but the shitty bands that inspired the shitty bands that INSPIRED THEM! (That is two full generations of shit, for those who are taking notes.) The kids in Born Of Osiris were literally still in diapers when 18V was recording their first EP.
This lineup also included Bleeding Through founder Brandon Schieppati, whose current band went on to inspire current countless deathcore/metalcore bands — and let me add that while I don’t really know Brandon, he was always incredibly fucking nice whenever they played Seattle back in the day. Foreshadowing the direction the band was to take, he always used to wear a sleeveless Danzig shirt, and in 1999 or 2000 told me that their new material wasn’t “really even hardcore, it’s just like chaotic rock.”
Basically, early 18V picked up where Bloodlet left off, taking their sludgy, off-kilter style to the extreme, bordering on death metal at times. Any younger readers need to understand this in context– at the time, very very few people in hardcore were doing anything like this. These days, combining death metal and hardcore is so commonplace that it’s almost expected, but back then it was revolutionary, and nobody other than Abnegation did it as well as 18V.
Download their brutal-as-fuck debut LP, Yesterday Was Time Killed (long out of print via Cedargate Records… did Chase Corum have something to do with this or am I crazy?? [Edit: Chase commented on the original version of this post and said that sadly he did not.]).
PHASE 2: Fashioncore
These days, almost all metalcore bands combine screaming vocals with clean singing parts, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact, it literally was not ever done until 18V did it: after inventing deathcore, 18 Visions were (as far as I can recall) the first metalcore band to use clean vocals. I’ll admit, I wasn’t into it when I first heard this album, since I was expecting more deathcore in the vein of Until The Ink. When my girlfriend at the time asked me what it sounded like, I said, “Well, uh, it’s a little different than their old stuff… It’s kind of like Alice In Chains meets Godsmack?” She replied “Oh… that sucks,” but I said “No, actually it’s pretty fucking tight, I’m into it!!”
It’s hard to convey how new and shocking these albums were at the time. Maybe to kids these days, they sound unremarkable and pedestrian, but if they do it’s because this once-unique style has become the template for literally an entire generation of bands. It came completely out of left field, because NOBODY at the time had done anything like this musically, and nobody else looked like 18V did. They were the first band to have fancy hair, the first band (other than Unbroken and all those types of bands) to wear tight pants, and certainly the first band to take fashioncore steez nationwide (via touring in some shitty, broken-down van). If you want more details on the origins of their hair and image, check out original 18V bassist Javier Van Huss’ SYWH post about how he and James invented scene hair (srs).
“I Don’t Mind” at the legendary shithole The Ottobar in Maryland — this was before Jame Shart took vocal lessons, some of the singing parts are a bit painful live :/
The studio versions of Vanity hold up a little better in retrospect — this song is fucking sick, even almost a decade later. Guitar sound is awesome, too.
Jame Shart, inventor of the xfashioncorex soul patch. Note his straightedge tattoo — this was back when people in metalcore bands actually knew about hardcore.
LOL @ Keith Barney’s orange hair in the video for “You Broke Like Glass” from 2002’s Vanity. I’m not really into the whole “sexy lesbian” thing, especially when they’re wearing dumpy boyshorts (most popular with “husky” girls who are ashamed of their big butts), but this song is pretty tight. Not sure why the sound quality is so awful, especially considering this is the “official” version. Also, what happened to the director of this video, Chris Sims?
“The World Is Mine” is a b-side from Obsession and by far my favorite song from this era of 18V — this is what I call a fucking hard rock song!!! That chorus! Wonder why this didn’t make the album??
“Tower of Snakes” off their second fashioncore LP, Obsession. Fucking awesome song, and I’m also kinda jellz of James’ hair in this video (srs).
Many people point to this as the time that 18V started to suck (the post-Jav era), but I beg to differ. It’s certainly a completely different band than the one on their first two albums, but Vanity and Obsession are great albums in their own right. Without a doubt, all the “autotune-and-breakdown-for-Christ” bands of today wouldn’t exist if 18V didn’t pave the way with these two albums. I’m sure to some of you members of the No Fun Club that’s a bad thing, but I’m down for anything that makes kids mosh and gets the party started, even if I’m literally twice their age.
I believe Javier quit the band after the release of their 2001 LP Until The Ink Runs Dry, replaced by Mick Deth. Brandon also quit around this time to pursue Bleeding Through full time. Much like when Chad quit Shai Hulud to do New Found Glory, we all laughed and called him a fggt at the time, but he got the last laugh [via bands who went on to become much more successful than us armchair quarterbacks predicted].
This new version of 18V wasn’t afraid to explore their RAWK side, no doubt pushed in that direction by Jame Shart and his ever-growing Scott Weiland fetish. Before I heard Obsession I’d never heard a record that had so much rock swagger yet was still so crushingly heavy in its own way. Again, no one else had done this yet; while their peers were ripping off Swedes ripping off other Swedes, 18V went full-charge into the terrain of catchy rock choruses and songs you could sing along to. Tr00 18V fans jumped shipped the moment they heard Obsession (if they hadn’t already), but the record unquestionably holds up today as one of the best records of the early-mid ’00s metalcore scene.
PHASE 3: Mansoncore
I don’t think anybody knew that their cover of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” on Punk Goes 90s was showing the direction that 18 Visions would take over the next few years, but it sure did. Once again, they threw me for a loop but made me recalibrate my definition of awesome — I stayed up for hours downloading this album on IRC the very moment it was leaked (yeah, I was that hardcore of an 18V fan), and it was definitely not what I expected. As before, my then-girlfriend asked me what it sounded like, and I answered “Um… I guess like Papa Roach meets Marilyn Manson??” As before, she groaned. and I replied, “No actually it’s kind of fucking awesome!” And in retrospect, I honestly feel like this is their best album.
No joke, “Black And Bruised” is my favorite 18V song out of their entire catalog — fucking LOVE this track. That intro!! Sometimes I srsly listen to it like five times in a row and wish they would do another album like this.
Around 2003-2008 or so, I used to train MMA six days a week, several hours a day. The guy who owns the gym is a metal dude about the same age as me, and when this album came out I brought it in and put it on the boombox while we were warming up. When this song came on, he stopped shadowboxing and said “What the fuck is THIS?? It sounds like… brutal glam metal??” It was supposed to be sarcastic, but he was exactly right.
This is my second-favorite 18V track of all time, “Your Nightmare.” At the height of my time as a confused, drug-addled trainwreck, I used to listen to this song like eight times in a row when I was at the gym working off a hangover while trying to remember the details of effing some hipster girl, and for a couple years my Facebook status was “We’ll smash your fantasy.”
The video for “Victim” was the height of 18V’s Mansoncore phase, especially Jame Shart’s bandanna halter top. Wonder if he bought that at the girls’ section of Mr. Rags??
By this point, pretty much everybody who knew 18V during their time as a hardcore band hated them. As you might guess, though, this is when I loved them more than ever. In all seriousness, I feel like this is when the band truly came into their own. It’s basically the hard rock album that Papa Roach, Orgy, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park wish they made — you probably think I’m joking or that I mean that as an insult, but neither could be further from the truth. I fucking love this record, PERIOD.
All this time, 18V was a rock and roll band pretending to be a hardcore band (and I mean that as a compliment). Because they started in the 90s, they couldn’t admit to it (doing so would have been heresy back then), but it’s the truth: they were rock stars in DIY hardcore clothing. In that respect, they were over a decade ahead of their time. These days, EVERY band wants to be rock stars and aren’t shy about it, but if it wasn’t for 18V paving the way, they’d have to keep their swagger in the closet.
And their music? To this day, head and shoulders above 99% of today’s weak, generic, uninspired so-called “metalcore” bands. Like I mentioned before, 18V predates not only the current wave of shitty metalcore bands, but even the bands who INFLUENCE them (ATG, TDWP, KSE, et al). Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
PHASE 4: Post-18V
Sadly, 18V broke up in 2006 or 2007, presumably when they realized they’d never really make any money. Since they (like me) were approaching their 30s at the time, I can’t say I blame them, but I was still super bummed since I love(d) the band. 18V is long gone, but the members live on in several other bands.
I loved the N3V3R ENOU6H album (or whatver lame l337-speak spelling they used), but I guess it didn’t really work out the way the bigwigs at Corporate Punishment hoped it would?? I guess they broke up a year or two ago, too bad — I thought their CD was pretty sweet and to this day it’s the only thing I have ever actually bought on iTunes.
Burn Halo is a Jame Shart’s mnstrm hard rock band — I think they’re pretty fucking great, basically beating Avenged Sevenfold at their own game. Hope they get huge.
While the post-18V bands might not be as groundbreaking an innovative as 18V was, they’re all pretty damn good and deserve your support. I really wish Never Enough would have stuck around to do a second album, and Bleeding Through gets better with every record. I’m super into Burn Halo, and if there is any justice in the world, they will get as big as Bon Jovi.
There you have it, kids: like it or not, 18V laid the foundation for whatever dumb shit you are into, no joke. Without them, there would be no keyboards in metalcore, no screaming mixed with clean vocals, no tights pants, and no fancy hair in hardcore. There would be no Rise Records, no Attack Attack and certainly no Avenged Sevenfold or Escape The Fate. But aside from that, and all joking aside [via bands who were a decade before their time], they released a whole bunch of records that go underappreciated by Kids These Days. Do yourself a favor and research Eighteen Visions, or pose — your choice. They were punk before you knew what that was.
2nd edition update from Mick Deth:
I work for Century Media these days and we are planning an official 18V DVD release, a retrospect. No official statement or date has been set yet but it’s in the works. I’m not doing anything musical at the moment. I spent the last few years teching for Hatebreed and still doing my clothing company DETHLESS. Keith’s new metalcore band is called Monument To Thieves. trevor plays in the industrial band Combichrist and a new band with Brandan from Bleeding Through called Suffer Well who just signed to Century Media. Ken has been teching and tour managing for many bands since he is now playing with Brandon Saller of Atreyu in the The Black Cloud Collective.
Curious– why do you call James “Jame Shart? Ha.
[Closing note to the revised version: I hope it’s clear that any jokes in this post are all in good fun — and I want to thank the guys in the band for making some of my favorite records of all time, playing some of the best shows I’ve ever been to, and sticking it out in spite of all the haters! Please email me if there’s anything I got wrong.]
Sergeant D. praises stuff you hate every day at Stuff You Will Hate.