Vision of Disorder: Members of Killswitch Engage, Glassjaw Recall Metalcore Pioneers’ Early Days
Glassjaw guitarist Justin Beck states it perfectly: “Amy Fisher, Debbie Gibson and V.O.D. – what more can I say?” If there was ever a trifecta of Long Island, New York’s contribution to the Western culture, it may in fact involve the ’80s pop princess, the Long Island Lolita and one of the most forward-thinking bands to leave a bloody scar on the face of heavy music.
Vision of Disorder has a lot to answer for. Not only did they issue two of the most challenging and often fucked-up albums to close the millennia (’96’s Vision of Disorder, ’98’s caustic Imprint) before throwing their fans for a loop with a penultimate platter of both loved and maligned hard-rock fury: 2001’s From Bliss to Devastation, but they also shifted the zeitgeist of modern hardcore. They’re widely considered founding fathers of modern metalcore with inspirees (like then-fellow Long Island young-uns, Glassjaw) swearing by ’em.
That’s lookin’ at you Bring Me the Horizon.
When V.O.D. started a mind-numbing two decades ago in 1992, they weren’t trying to spark – let alone fan the flames of some hardcore revolution. Not that they were in it alone. “All we know at the time it was really easy to point out the bands that were part of it,” V.O.D. guitarist Matt Baumbach tells Noisecreep. “When I heard Overcast it was so easy to say, ‘This is a band that we should play with.’ They got it the same way we got it. It didn’t have to be the same old cookie cutter thing. The same with Starkweather, Converge, Bloodlet, Deadguy. We were all different than the 15 other bands you’d play with on some bill. They all sounded the same.”
Overcast bassist and founder Mike D’Antonio (now of a relatively obscure outfit known as Killswitch Engage) recalls those proto-metal-hardcore-salad-days: “This scene was an era of (heavy metal) ‘New Age Christopher Columbus”, paving new ground for metal. We kept the scene moving. Bands like Overcast, Candiria and V.O.D. all had a special kinship towards one another – like a network of sleeper cells.”
Watch Vision of Disorder’s ‘Set to Fail’ Video
Cut to 2012: Straight outta the “Don’t Call It A Comeback Dept: V.O.D.’s long-gestating The Cursed Remain Cursed is pure, uncut Vision of Disorder – truer to the uncompromising sound of Imprint than where they left off 11 years back on From Bliss to Devastation. “With From Bliss to Devastation the theory was: ‘What’s right or wrong for a song.’ On this record the theory was ‘What’s right or wrong for a V.O.D. song,” says Matt. “It would have almost made more sense if From Bliss to Devastation was some side project. We’ve never been known for taking the easy way out.”
Better to burn out (at least for a few years): Tim Williams and guitarist Mike Kennedy released two records with the nu-metallish Bloodsimple, Baumbach vented his commercial aspirations in a band called Mainline and bassist Mike Fleischman and drummer Brandon Cohen dabbled in various bands for Vision of Disorder to come full circle. “We were down in the basement of a hair salon, in a disgusting, moldy, leaky basement writing this record,” says Baumbach. “We approached it with no expectations but to please ourselves – just like we did when we wrote the first two records.”
Who knew that V.O.D. was going to be the Cro-Magnons (not the Hare Krishna ones) to hardcore’s Neanderthals? When then-Shelter frontman Ray Cappo heard the band, it was their willingness to bend and break hardcore and metal’s collective DNA that scored V.O.D. its deal through his Supersoul imprint with Roadrunner Records. “V.O.D. were both visually and sonically breaking new ground from the hardcore and metal scenes. It took me half of the first song the played for me to say ‘Somebody has got to sign these guys!,'” Cappo tells Noisecreep.
Whether they’ll cop to it or not, Vision of Disorder were an evolutionary step from hardcore. Yet, the only thing they could give a shit about is being Vision of Disorder – twenty years later. “That’s the meaning of The Cursed Remain Cursed,” says Matt. “All we tried to do was to just be ourselves – then and now,” says Matt. “If we came out with a record that sounded like A Day to Remember, that would be horrible. Even making a record that sounds like The Devil Wears Prada or As I Lay Dying would be contrived and fake. I’d rather be known as the old fogies who are doing it the way they do.”