(Here’s Todd Manning‘s review of the new album by Ontario-based VHS, which is set for a December 3rd release by Wise Blood Records.)
Halloween lasts all year long unless you’re a poser. So it doesn’t really matter that Canada’s death fiends VHS aren’t dropping their album I Heard They Suck…Blood until December 3rd, the shit is going to hit you the same regardless. Like Halloween, the influences VHS lean on feel eternal in Metal’s history. Take one part Scream Bloody Gore, mix in some early Autopsy, Repulsion, and more recently Exhumed, and you have a fist-pumping, gore-spewing recipe for old school death metal.
While not exactly breaking the mold, VHS take the sound of their predecessors and make it their own. They look to a time when death metal’s DNA still had a lot of thrash mixed up in it. Not the polished excellence of the Bay Area bands, but that nasty sound pioneered by Kreator and early Slayer. Oftentimes, such as on “Fake Blood and Push-Up Bras”, a track that features Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad, things take on an almost punk feel. For those sections, the Autopsy influence gives way to Abcess, yet when they do slow down, the evil melodies of Chris Reifert’s home base return.
Also of note are the ripping leads of Mike Hochins. The work is shredding and old school, but contains melodic elements as well that make them stand out against the onslaught. Particularly interesting is his lead on “Frog Brothers” in which he utilizes a strange effect that makes his guitar almost sound like some sort of unhinged saxophone. Meanwhile, “A Town Called Purgatory” features a number of rock and roll breaks with the appropriate boogie guitar solos to boot. These sections bring to mind Pungent Stench’s Dirty Rhymes & Psychotronic Beats or any of Entombed’s later death ‘n’ roll albums.
Other highlights include “Immortality Comes At a Price”, which showcases guest vocals from Benediction’s Dave Ingram, and the oddly constructed but thrilling “I’m Sorry Abby”. On the latter, the drums seem to alternate between snare rolls, punk beats, and some deliciously evil doom riffing. The album closes with “Getting the Gang Back Together”, a rocking mash-up of Exhumed and Impetigo. Once again, not the most adventurous sound but one that VHS have certainly mastered.
VHS conjure images of raiding the horror section of your local video store, you know, the one that closed in 1995. Even more so, they conjure images of moshing in a cramped night club, beers held high and spilling everywhere as the crowd growls along. Either set of imagery is fine with me and probably you too, unless your a poser…