It’s hard to branch out and go out on your own into the world, no matter what the situation. There’s a lot of unknown factors that could come up, and now you have no choice but to face it yourself. Being a kid and growing up under your parents’ roof, everything seemed so simple and as if life was just given to you on a silver platter. Then once you grow up and move out into your own home you’re faced with the reality that nothing is just handed to you. You have to work for everything you have or have nothing at all. There are financial responsibilities of which you couldn’t have begun to fathom until they’re coming straight out of your own wallet. As you face this new reality, there may be things about you that change. How you present yourself, the message you try to convey, and even how you sound. Now there is always the risk that people won’t accept this new you, but that’s a risk you must take, a fear you must brave. Now many of these same situations can translate perfectly when compared to the world of music and a band going out on their own after initially being with a label. The financial responsibilities are now carried (typically) solely by the band. The freedom of not have anyone breathing down your neck, telling you how you should sound can be so incredibly amazing, yet you wonder with no advice in this area, will the sound you choose be the right one for the masses? Things possibly aren’t as simple as they once were (or assuredly some aspects could be easier), but no matter what the band is on their own with all the freedoms and all of the responsibilities. After their departure from Stay Sick, Villain Of The Story have decided to take the music scene (by storm) independently. And with their sophomore release entitled Ashes, it’s certain they wish to set it ablaze.
Immediately the group smash out of the metaphorical gates with the first track, “The Dark Side”. It’s instantly clear the group has decided to go for a much more ballsy, in your face, almost deathcore-esque vibe with this song (and it carries throughout most of the record). A blood curdling scream paired with speaker shredding guitars, bass, and drums begin the tune which then transition into subtle electronic samples and the equally as blistering verse. Harsh vocalist Christian Grey has ramped his screams up by about a thousand, turning those guttural growls into almost death metal roars, and his highs hitting peaks that could quite easily shatter glass. It’s quite obvious during the first chorus that clean vocalist Logan Bartholomew has changed his tactics as well, opting for a harshened raspy quality, which only adds to the overall added heaviness. Although there are still subtle electronics here and there in the track, it seems as if the group has opted for them to be subtle nuances in the background as opposed to feeling like another one of the ‘instruments’ like they did on their debut. A heavy hitter to begin your foray into a much more intensified Villain Of The Story.
“Lying to Myself” has an intro that could almost be reminiscent of a Godsmack song from the self-titled/ Awake days. A rhythmic rock’n’roll sound with a hell of a lot more teeth. The verses and choruses are mostly helmed by Bartholomew where he showcases the range of his talents. Whether it be the softer croons, a raised level of singing for a little edge, or a half screamed-half sung delivery he has quite the repertoire. For a bit of added grit, Grey sings background during the bridges but crushes it all on his own bringing back them deathcore vibes for an intense outro. The song’s lyrical content seem to speak to an individual who has been controlled all their life, and tried to live up to anyone’s expectations of who they’re supposed to be except their own. They finally reach a breaking point where they realize that who they have been isn’t actually who they are and it’s time to stop pretending. It’s time to break free and become who they truly are.
One of the great things about Ashes is that although overall the album sways a bit more in the direction of deathcore, the band didn’t limit themselves or pigeonhole themselves into any one specific genre and sub there of. Although every attempt at combining different genres into a single album may not hit the mark every time, the group has made a valiant effort at showing off many of their different tastes and talents. “Too Far Gone” is a good example of this. Combing a little VOTS of old and new, this song brings back memories of their debut in the sense that it leans more towards a melodic metalcore sound. Hammering guitars and blasting, rhythmic drums are set forth making the listener tap their foot and head bang all at once. This song more than some others absolutely demonstrates the true harmony that can be created between both vocalists as it has both singing/screaming each sentence after the other during the verses. An approach that pays off well for Villain Of The Story and all points on Ashes. The chorus is exceedingly catchy, only begging the listener to sing a long with it. Fear not metalheads; regardless of any smoother melodies or catchiness in general, you will not be left without your fair share of Grey’s smashing screams and intensely heavy instrumentals (along with a mosh inducing breakdown of course.).
The closing track on Ashes, entitled “Peace Of Mind”, may be the most surprising song brought to you from the boys in VOTS yet. Overall the song has many elements that they have used in songs before. There are more electronics on this song than any other on Ashes, which is slightly reminiscent of Wrapped in Vines, Covered in Thorns in the sense that the use of any electronics or samples were much more prevalent on that album. And yet the closest they’ve come to a song like this before was on the previous album and that was with the interlude, “Serenity”. The song may also surprise listeners seeing as many have more than likely never heard a song from the group with only clean vocals. Yet that should not scare any readers away. The vocals are beautifully sung and seem to be shared by both vocalists. Sonically the song has the most heartfelt emotion ever heard from the group before, and it will undoubtedly be many a fans favorite if for that reason alone.
Starting anything new on your own can be the upmost scariest thing you will ever have to face. The amount of unknowns that you could possibly encounter could be enough to stop most folk dead in their tracks before even attempting such a feat. Most would cower at the thought, never knowing if the juice would have been worth the squeeze. Perhaps it won’t be, or just maybe it’ll be the greatest thing you have ever done in your life. Much the same can be said for Villain Of The Story and the release of their upcoming album, Ashes. Although their departure from Stay Sick was mutual, they took a big chance leaving the safety net of a label to brave the musical world all on their own. But after releasing the single “Too Far Gone” and it swiftly becoming one of their most listened and sought after releases yet, maybe it wasn’t such a bad choice after all. With a new sense of direction and an earth shattering new sound, the group is poised to take on the music scene with all their might, and with Ashes one could hope it all pays off.