E.P. Review: Vio-lence – Let The World Burn

Vio-Lence Drop Dead Kennedys 'California Uber-Alles' Cover

E.P. Review: Vio-lence – Let The World Burn
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Depending on whom you ask, Vio-Lence are either a short-lived name in the annals of thrash or one of the greatest cult thrash bands of the late 80s to early 90s. A slew of attempted reunions have followed suite since their initial 1993 breakup however, their recent announcement of a 2019 reunion seems to be our best opportunity to date to see a fully realised Vio-Lence finally return to the fold in a way fans have always wanted to see happen. Formed way back in 1985 originally as Death Penalty before changing to Violence and finally once again to the abbreviated Vio-Lence we know them as today, the band were always on the scene from the mid 80s onwards with several Demos demonstrating what they were made of. But its 1988’s Eternal Nightmare where the band managed to start flexing themselves as well as their 1990 follow-up Oppression Of The Masses, a hard hitting album even by today’s standards. However, not long after the poor reception of their 1993 Nothing To Gain record, the band soon split up. Notably, one Phil Demmel exited the band at this time and would eventually play once more with fellow ex-Vio-Lence member Rob Flynn in a little band named Machine Head. But, with their first notable work in nearly two decades, does Vio-Lence still have that drive to destroy? Only one way to find out.

It’s quite the amplified bass tone we receive from the band here. Now I don’t believe it’s simply a thick tone underlying the rest of the band’s performance that makes this E.P. stand out, nor is it that you’re always able to listen to the bass play as it’s own independent entity, I reckon this E.P. sounds and hits as hard as it does because the mix has outlined the instrumentation and vocal performance in this bold way. The mix feels like it’s punching us, the E.P. is practically trying to burst out of its cover in order to find us and wrap its hands around our throats. The bass certainly amplifies the rest of the band’s performance because everything else manages to hit us with all the force of a volume-boosted piece of music without us needing to raise any volume in the first place. The bass has effectively highlighted the band’s performance for us to hone in on so when noticeable things do take place, they feel all the more significant because the bass is directing our attention where the band most desires it to be.

I enjoyed how, aside from the primary riff performance, you’re able to fully take in the underlaying riffs that effectively reinforce the band’s assault on your senses. Listen closely and beneath the main riffs you’ll always be able to listen in to the secondary guitar performance. In the case of this E.P. this secondary performance isn’t replicating the main riffing, rather it’s supplementing the band’s sound with an additional dosage of ferocity that is rather addictive to hear. As a result, the audience is able to keenly enjoy everything the riffs can throw at them even while the primary guitar work may slow down or take a breather here and there. You’ll forever be on the edge of your seat with the ripping and grating timbre Vio-Lence have packed for you no matter what section of guitar playing you choose to appreciate.

E.P. Review: Vio-lence – Let The World Burn

The band offer up quite the unrelenting assault, it’s been a long time since their last major work, and I thoroughly believe the intensity of the drumming plays a key role in this. Much of the band’s persona here is hardwired to strike you square in the face. There’s no such notions of subtlety happening here and the drumming is a key aspect: it sounds like it’s been brought slightly forward in the mix than your usual thrash band may do. As a result, just the simple Tom-toms come down on us with a compact and resolute strike that renders every movement across the drum kit with ample energy and attention. What’s more, as things can also calm down from time to time, the bass drum has this satisfying thud that isn’t so overly powerful as to take away from the rest of the drumming. It’s a drum performance that maximises it’s own power without being an instrumental detriment on what the rest of the band can offer. It’s at the forefront of the band’s presentation without hogging the majority of the spotlight.

Considering that this is the first major E.P. that Vio-Lence have done in almost twenty years, it’s amazing how well Sean Killian’s vocals have held up. Killian always had a slightly unique vocal timbre that really allowed him to stand out from many of his other thrash contemporaries. Fast approaching 35 years since Eternal Nightmare, Sean Killian’s vocals have genuinely made their impression on this E.P., they still never let up even after all this time. Granted you have to make allowance for a modicum of deterioration after such a long time but in the grand scheme of things, Killian has committed an exemplary performance here by providing us with a gruff, energetic but always grounded vocal delivery that never sees us climb into the sky at all. There’s always this firm notion that Killian is side by side with his band mates and you feel that unity played out through the mix too, wonderfully blended together to get the best out of the instrumentation as well as the vocals. An ageing vocal delivery worth our attention for certain.

In conclusion, Vio-Lence have only continued to demonstrate why their name is one of a pantheon amongst cult thrash metal acts. Eternal Nightmare, Oppression Of The Masses and now we have this E.P. Let The World Burn joining that zenith of the band’s finest material. Considering how long it’s been since fans all agreed on Vio-Lence’s best works to date, I’m very confident this E.P. will be received extremely well by even the most skeptical longtime fans. If this E.P. is anything to go by towards a potential, future album release then I am absolutely for it. Vio-Lence have showcased they’re far from down and out, releasing an E.P. that’s as visceral and ferocious as they ever were in their heyday. With all the impact of a knuckle duster, Let The World Burn does precisely what it says on the tin.

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