Hailing from Seattle are a couple of thrash-punks who call themselves “Vile Display of Humanity” (great name). Formed recently through the amalgamation of previously successful bands, the five-some has gone on record to talk about the difficulties of having to pool funds and work their asses off to get their self-titled debut album off the ground. Labelled as something of a denouncement of American politics, Vile Display of Humanity releases their labour of love with the earnest hope that their message can reach out and appeal to a like-minded audience.
The album opens up on “Minimum Wage”, an immediate critical look at the average worker bee. The track itself is a high octane denigration of the hard working individual who ends up slaving away his entire life (at least my interpretation), but lines like “suicide can stop the debt and maybe then you’d learn” is not a good first step in any direction. I understand the band’s medium/genre and the necessary aggression which comes along with it, but the fact is that suicide is still a sensitive topic which really doesn’t need to be provoked by what could very well become someone’s go-to music of choice.
This is followed by “You Can’t Escape” which sounds almost exactly as if “Minimum Wage” continued right into it. The clash of cymbals and breakneck percussion returns in full force, along with the familiar raspy (and aggressive) vocals of Doug Mitchell. A big difference is the extended run of the instrumental this time around, as you can distinctly pick up on some fantastic licks adding some flavour to the track.
One song which you may feel might deviate off the beaten pack (based on name alone) is “Answers in a Bottle”, but you’d be wrong. Once again, the high octane backdrop complements Mitchell as he ravages the track with some angry lyricism: “You should’ve been there, you didn’t fucking care”. A major highlight of the track is (again) the riveting guitar-playing which somewhat makes up for the disappointingly homogenous music on the album so far.
“Pipe Bomb” tries to shake things up with a slower start, starting off with an eerie back-alley progression on the strings before building up into the faster tempo Vile Display of Humanity is comfortable in. However, the more distinct thumping of the drums and pronounced, poignant plucking really sets this piece apart from the rest. Its new sound and approach creates one of the more powerful songs on the album, a real standout in the band’s twenty track showcase.
Skipping ahead, we get to the much more compact final track “Sunday Morning”, where the band actually opts slows things down all the way through (wow). And to be honest, it sounds fantastic. Without the rasp, Mitchell’s vocals actually take on a rather surprising quality of richness: a fullness which was understandably undiscernible when he’s throwing it down hard in every other track. Also previously unheard, is a distinctly pleasant harmony with some background vocals, and a poignant, evocative set of strings which really is the cherry on top the track. It’s a wonderful curtain call by the band, and something I wish I’d seen more of in the rest of the album.
Overall, Vile Display of Humanity’s self-titled debut album is quite the success. Although there are a ton of tracks early on which showcase a singular, repetitious style, it’s sometimes necessary to establish your sound first and foremost (though one too many this times in this one). However, what the band does is give its listener glimpses of what they’re really capable of when their sound actually begins to deviate from what’s expected. The biggest example of this is “Sunday Morning” where vocal ability, and the poignancy of their music really starts to show, along with a potential to touch more than one spectrum of emotion with their music. This is definitely an upcoming band to watch out for.