LET’S TALK ABOUT VISION OF DISORDER!
As some of you know, I cut my teeth in the 90s hardcore scene. If you lived through it like I did, you know what 90s hardcore was all about: XXL basketball jerseys, cargo pants, AOL hardcore chat, bleach-blonde dreadlocks, and kicking it with your bros after moshing it up at the show. Oh, and fucking VOD!! Were they hardcore? Were they nu-metal?? Hard rock?? Who knows!
When it comes to 90s hardcore bands who were years (if not a decade) ahead of the curve, predating a whole generation of bands who took their style and ran with it, and never got the credit they deserved for it, VOD is right up there with 18 Visions, and it’s a damn shame. Blurring the lines between hardcore, nu-metal and hard rock, there are few bands from that era whose work still holds up today.
In this post, I will do my best to cover VOD’s career and give you my two cents on why they were so fucking sweet. I know there’s been a VOD comeback in the works for a while (see UGO’s coverage here), although I’m not sure what’s going on with that. Hopefully someone can shed some light in the comments– either way, here’s a trip down memory lane for old fans, and an introduction for anyone new!
I’m going to skip the demos and 7″: both were solid for what they were, but they were essentially just less-polished versions of what VOD did on their first record. And let me tell you, this record blew a lot of minds when it came out in 96 or whatever via Ray Cappo’s short-lived, lulzy Roadrunner imprint Supersoul.
There were tons of bands playing extremely metallic hardcore, but other than 18 Visions, Earth Crisis, Bloodlet and a handful of others, they were pretty rough around the edges. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but VOD were about a zillion times more polished and “professional” than anybody else in the hardcore scene, and they turned a lot of heads with this one.
Now that I think of it, they were probably the first hardcore band to do clean vocals, predating even 18V. Their self-titled record was very slick, with what I’m guessing was a big Roadrunner budget behind it, and was pretty much the perfect fusion of nu metal (ala Korn, who were blowing up at the time) and Victory-style hardcore. As you might expect, a lot of people hated on it because they wore Adidas jerseys and played 5-string basses. But fuck it, I love(d) Korn and I loved hardcore, so to me it was exactly what I’d been waiting for.
They followed up on their debut LP with relentless touring, which I think is what made them blow up like they did. I was fortunate to see them three or four times during this era, most notably in Cleveland with Earth Crisis, Madball, Downset and Crown of Thornz. YOU’RE FUCKING MOSHING, right?! What a lineup, damn. Me and one other kid I didn’t know were the only ones who knew any CoT lyrics though- feels bad, man.
And on the nerd tip, this record has some of the best drumming I’ve ever heard. I don’t know anything about their drummer, but this guy was on some next-level shit. Lots of really interesting, tasteful stuff on here, and a really unique drum sound: love the thick, rubbery kick paired with the super-cranked snare with super crisp hi-hat.
So fucking good. Moshed my balls off to this one when I saw them with All Out War in 1999 or some shit. To this day, the first verse at :25 makes me lose my shit. And again, I think this has to be one of the first instances of a hardcore band mixing screaming, clean vocals/singing and breakdowns- a good 6-8 years ahead of its time (which is like 1a century in hardcore years).
Also, back then they used a lot of vocal effects on the record. They sounded amazing, but the problem is that they were playing shitty clubs and other venues whose soundguy couldn’t possibly care less about VOD, so Tim had to replicate them by plugging into a delay pedal and stepping on it at the right time :( And the first time I saw them, in 1997 I think, they didn’t have a bass player but they DID have bright blue Adidas jerseys!
Maybe my favorite song on this album– and the drumming in the intro is so sick, love the double bass and hi-hat interplay. Also, I assume this song is about drugs, but when I was 18 and straightedge I didn’t really pay attention to these things.
Incredibly lulzy excerpt from the legendary 1995 “New York Hardcore” documentary- now that I think about it, I think I saw some VOD spinoff band called Skullcrusher with Assuck or some shit at Deja One in like 1998 or something?? Anybody else at that show? Hilarious.
Wikipedia says that VOD’s second album “Imprint” is widely considered their best, and maybe that’s true. Personally I found it a little bit too harsh and raw for my tastes, especially considering how polished and accessible their first record was, but there’s no doubt that it was groundbreaking as fuck. Perhaps Deadguy et al beat them to the punch by a couple years, but if you listen to contemporary metalcore/screamo/etc, I feel like it owes a pretty substantial debt to VOD (although I am sure 99% of current Rise/Victory bands have never heard of them). They were certainly
I don’t really know anything personal about these guys, but from listening to this record I get a strong sense that someone/everyone in the band was strung out on something at the time. Maybe that’s because *I* was strung out on something when I was most into this record and I’m projecting my own trainwreck onto them, IDK. Either way, it’s definitely a landmark record, whether they got any credit for it or not.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like VOD had enough swagger that this could come out on Rise in 2011 and kids would be into it?? Definitely a little more harsh and raw than Asking Alexandria or whatever, but I think the more industrial-strength fuckups in the scene would be on board?? Maybe I’m asking too much of today’s 15 year-olds; maybe there’s too many self-destructive impulses here for them.
“Up In You”
Apparently “Imprint” is VOD’s best-selling record, which kind of surprises me considering that it has songs like this on it. I’m not hating– this is a great song, but it’s definitely not easy on the ears, and I didn’t like it until I had pretty much bottomed-out on life and wanted to kill everybody and/or die. Either way, not exactly a pretty song, so I can understand why it didn’t blow up, but if you are like me and you are a heavy-duty fuckup, I feel like you will get it? Soundtrack to melting down and making some spectacular poor life choices.
FROM BLISS TO DEVASTATION
Much like 18 Visions, VOD’s last album is both their best and most-hated. Just as 18V did with their self-titled record, VOD pretty much completely walked away from hardcore and dropped a straight-up hard rock album that completely horrified and alienated most of their fans. But fuck the fans: in my opinion “From Bliss To Devastation” is the definitive VOD record. Don’t get me wrong, it came as a big shock to me too. I remember getting it when it first came out, popping it in, and thinking “WTF so they sound like Soundgarden now” and pretty much not listening to it again for a couple of years.
I randomly picked it up again a few years down the road, when I was real fucked up via a few bad habits and just generally hated life, and it finally clicked with me. I think I needed to be completely burned out, used up and worn out to appreciate where they were coming from on this record… Much like Alice In Chains, Death Threat or Guttermouth, I don’t think you can appreciate this album until you’ve been a disappointing, miserable trainwreck and hated yourself every time you look in the mirror. Obviously it’s a different sound from their other records, but fuck it, I think it’s a pretty amazing hard rock record, and I still listen to it on the regular.
I don’t really know the details about why or how it happened, but VOD just kind of fell off the map, and broke up a year or two after this record came out. It’s a fucking shame: they should have been huge, and this album was years and years ahead of its time in terms of songwriting and overall vibe.
This video is from like 2001 and has aged very well for the most part– but LOLing hard at the girl’s dated underwear, it’s so fucking high on her hips it’s practically up to her bellybutton.
“On The Table”
So heavy, sleazy and awesome. The best song Alice In Chains never wrote but should have.
A couple of years after VOD disappeared, Tim and Mike (the brains behind VOD) popped up with a new band called Bloodsimple. I’ll come right out and say it: I literally might be the world’s biggest Bloodsimple fan (or at least the biggest fan with more than a GED). There was a good 6 month period where I listened to nothing but this album, Life Of Agony “Ugly” and the self-titled 18 Visions record– those three records on repeat for like hours and hours every day. Call it my “hard rock trainwreck” phase, but I came to love this band dearly during that time.
I never even bothered to ask any of my hardcore friends what they thought of this band, because I’m sure they all hated it, but they can go be miserable and listen to Trash Talk or whatever bullshit is popular these days. I’ll be doing shots of Jager, having the time of my life, and blasting Bloodsimple, because this shit rules. It’s basically the groove and polish of hard rock and nu-metal with the energy and aggression of hardcore, which is basically the formula for perfection in my eyes.
As far as I could tell, Bloodsimple gave it a good run and making it big, and flirted with mainstream success via tours with bands like Disturbed and Soulfly, but never quite got there. I’m not sure why, maybe they were a little too heavy for mnstrmrs, but they put out two amazing records (produced by Machine, who also did the final 18 Visions record) before calling it a day in 2009 or so.
This video got a pretty good amount of airplay on MTV when they brought back “Headbanger’s Ball.” I think I remember some soldiers in Iraq talking about how they played it in their tank or whatever to get amped before going into battle- so fucking alpha!!
“How’s the tour going with fuckin’ HELLYEAH and OTEP??”
“Path To Prevail”
The perfect blend of hardcore and nu-metal- I feel like this song is the ultimate version of what VOD tinkered with back in the 90s. Very sad that they didn’t get more credit for how far they took this formula, but for the rest of my life I will always say Bloodsimple = YOU’RE MOSHING!!!!
Did you get into the hard rock VOD album as much as I did? Does Bloodsimple make you want to get blackout drunk, do like 6 lines and stay up for three days before passing out on a stranger’s piss-soaked couch???? What’s going on with the new VOD record??