Nostalgia is a strange and wondrous thing. There is no end as to what could trigger such a state of mind. A place, an individual, a scent, and of course any multitude of sounds. Music is an astounding contributor of this incredible, and whimsical sentiment. Whether it be a song, a music video, or the band itself, music can result in any moment becoming the epitome of nostalgia.
Let’s turn back the clock to the early 2000’s. I, a young lad in his mid-teens, was beginning my foray into the wonderful world of heavy music. Bands such as Poison The well, Atreyu, Every Time I Die (among others) were being introduced into my life. After being a so-called “fan” of whatever mainstream pop-culture said I should be listening to (typically the same recycled tunes, repackaged over and over as something new and different), this was quite the radical change. Never before had I heard such songs to match my teenage angsty ways. Once I started frequenting live shows I was hooked. No other type of music was this thrilling, that the adrenaline pumping through my veins felt like liquid fire, leaving me with a visceral and absolute sense of elation.
One day a good chum of mine messaged me on MSN messenger and said he had recently found out about this group, and that I just HAD to hear them for myself. Included in the message was an attached youtube link. A simple click of the mouse and I was taken to a page playing “Tower Of Snakes”, by Eighteen Visions. It was a hard hitting track with one of THE heaviest breakdowns I had ever heard. I became an instant fan. Eighteen Visions became a big part of the regular spins in my musical catalogue. In 2007 though, the band would release some heart-breaking news; the end of an era had come, and the end (at least presently) of Eighteen Visions had come. Although it seemed fairly amicable, it would be a tough pill to swallow for many. Most members moved on to join other bands as well as pursuing other endeavors.
In 2013 fans of the band would once again face some devastating news; longtime bassist Mick Morris had passed away from a pre-existing heart condition. This I’m sure to some, seemed to seal the fate that Eighteen Visions would never be a collective group in any shape or form, ever again. Ironically Mick had been quoted as saying he’d be willing to have a good ‘ol 18V reunion if other members would be into it. Now let’s fast-forward to February of 2017. The group would start up an official Eighteen Visions instagram with a picture of James Hart, Trevor Friedrich, and Keith Barney, with text that read “The countdown begins…”. Many speculated what this could, but on April 20th, the band confirmed the comeback and a new record. The reunion that Mick stated he’d hope for, had become a reality. Something I’m sure that would have him smiling up above, as I know many fans are down here on Earth.
The Cleverly titled album, XVII (18), will be the musical (nostalgic) wet dream for past fans, and will easily obtain a mass of new fans abroad I assure you. The record opens up with at a neck-breaking pace with “Crucified“. The eerie yet beautiful sound of swarming bees warns of the harsh sting to come. The track is riddled with blast beat drumming, sludgy palm muting, and glass cracking screams, and it perfectly sets the tone for the whole album. Eighteen Visions is back, and their pissed.
“I have come here to chew bubblegum, and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum”. A famous quote of threat from the film ‘They Live’. A fitting opening to the track “Underneath My Gun”. Immediately after the infamous film line and following gunfire, cymbals and a single guitar lead us into an onslaught of fire sure to raddle your speakers and eardrums alike. “There is no Mercy, for what You’ve done, and no forgiveness underneath my gun.”, an equally, if not an even more imposing omen than the one from ‘They Live’. The opening verse from vocalist James Hart, that I’m sure many fans will wish they could recite to their own worst enemies.
“Live Again” is the groups heartwarming tribute to their late friend, Mick Morris. The song speaks of brotherhood, times spent together, and how through the lives Mick had touched he will always live on. A fitting message to anyone who’s lost someone close to them. I myself lost a very close and dear friend almost two years ago, and hearing a song like this reminds me that it’s up to me to keep his memory alive With that he’ll never truly be lost. The dynamic between the softer instrumentals and clean sung verses, and the intensely heavy choruses/bridge brought to mind the sadness and anger that can come with losing someone so close. A great homage for someone who seemed to be such a great man himself.
This album has no lack of absolutely stellar, and well suited openings to its tracks. “Spit”, one of the most blistering and heavy tracks on the album begins with one of Daniel Day-Lewis’ greatest cinematic lines ever; “I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth. You can build your filthy world without me”. The first time I threw this record for a listen, and this song came on, I was in my car. The sung begun and the guitars and drums felt like they were blowing my speakers clear out. My side view mirrors rattled to the point I thought they may snap right off. I glimpsed down at my speedometer and noticed I had unknowingly sped up…well above the seed limit. If anyone’s having a bad day, and just wants to release some of that blood boiling tension, then this song’s for you.
Eleven years after their last album, and ten years after their last tours Eighteen Visions are back with an album reminiscent of their earlier albums (Yesterday Is Time Killed, Until The Ink Runs Out). Gone are the softer tracks border lining on straight rock’n’roll from later albums (‘Obsession, Eighteen Visions). Did they reinvent the proverbial metalcore wheel with this album? Nope. But they didn’t need to. Eighteen Visions are furious, and that will leave many fans feeling extremely happy, oddly enough. This album will be a nostalgic rush of hell-bending musical joy for the fans of old, and for anyone hearing XVIII for the first time you’re in for a treat you’ve truly been missing out on.