Pretty Vacant One

Track by Track: 1996 by Eighteen Visions

I know I’m late to this review but I’ve been in throws of our 2nd lockdown and well, to be honest, I’d rather listen to music than write about music. But now that our 8th week of lockdown is slowly inching its way into the 9th week (I think it’s the 9th anyway), the urge to write about music is back. (And if you’re curious, lockdown for us here in Sydney, shows no signs of lifting anytime soon. I may not be freed from my homebound cage until October at the earliest.)

But I digress…

Back on 9-July, a little surprise album called 1996, containing 10 songs (1 new track, 9 covers) was released from my absolute favorite Orange County band, Eighteen Visions (18V).

Who am I kidding, they’re probably the only band I can name from Orange County. In the music world, their name is synonymous with the OC. (And if I’m honest, I don’t really pay attention to where bands come from. I didn’t even realize The Amity Affliction was an Australian band until I was here for 3.5 years and I’d been listening to them for years. Color me embarrassed.)

Again, I digress…

Leading up to the surprise drop, 18V had released 3 of the tracks as singles and goddamn did those tracks melt my face and ear drums. As a fan, I was excited for new music from the band and I’ll take music from them however I can get it, their own or a cover. Just hit me with any music please and thank you.

Every single time 18V puts something new out, be it a new track, EP or album I am reminded why I dig the band so much. Few bands get better with age, but 18V age like a great whiskey or wine if that’s your cup of tea. (Sorry straight-edgers, I don’t have a non alcohol reference to use here).

To my ears, the band has always had a very distinct sound, similar to the way Alice in Chains has a very distinct dirty filthy guitar bass drum combo. No band has or can emulate that AIC sound. But let’s get back to 18V. Their sound is the way the vocals, guitar, drum and bass melt into a hectic, ecstatic and beautiful blend of controlled chaos and madness. I know what I’m getting with any 18V song: heart pounding and soul crushing drum and bass, guitars that are going to strip the innocence of life away, and vocals that will hold my hand and punch me in the face at the same time. ALWAYS. And let me be honest, no one, and I mean no one, can belt out a tune as clean and poetic yet bone shattering and blood curling as Mr. James Hart. No one.

I’ll stop jacking my jaws now and dive on in track by track.

1996″: <insert squealing> brand spanking new song from the fellas. As an 18V fan, I haven’t had new tunes since 2020’s INFERNO. That EP was an 18V amuse-bouche that just left me wanting more. With “1996”, I’m onto the appetizer round that is nothing short of divinely ear melting. It’s going to be a nice little lead up to a full album, when it happens in the future. This track was written by James Hart (vocals) and Keith Barney (guitars) and is signature 18V. Heavy. Poetic. Thundering bass and drum and just fucking fantastic. Like I said earlier, James has this perfect balance with his voice that will hold your hand and punch you in the face at the same time. I felt like this song could have easily been snatched right off of VANITY (or I should say, fit in within the VANITY album). Can you be old school and new school at the same time? If so, “1996” is just that. In an Instagram post, the band goes into detail of the story behind the lyrics of “1996” and its easily read through the lyrics. A fuck you to racism. The song is absolute pure fucking rage against hate and I love it.

“D.T.O” (Vision of Disorder): Won’t lie, couldn’t pick the band out of a line up of 10 nor did I know anything about them until this song. I’m fucking rock girl and I have no shame at all in saying that my learning and appreciation of metalcore/hardcore/punk music is still a continuing education. I listened to this song as I did the others in “side by side track” comparison and 18V made this song 47 times heavier. It’s like the band took a classic race car and dropped an F1 engine into it and hit the gas towards the finish line. Fucking brilliant is what it is.

THE HANGEDMAN (Damnation A.D): Didn’t know a damn thing about this band, but I absolutely dig this cover. In my opinion, if a band is going to do a cover there were only two ways to do it right:
-one, make it an upgrade of the original while still sounding like or very similar the original
-two, make it your own and give it your signature sound or a unique sound
Now there’s a third way, make it an upgrade, make it your own, and douse that baby in your essence (aka sound).
Man, oh man, 18V has done the third one. They have definitely upgraded the song but it’s got that 18V perfume (or cologne) all over it and it smells and sounds delish.

BORN FROM PAIN (Earth Crisis): Hey guess what, didn’t know nothing about this band either. Well, that’s a lie. I had heard of the band’s name, but had not listened to anything by them. This cover leaves me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted in a good way.

BLANKET (Unbroken): Godamn this cover is intense. If I hadn’t known it was a cover, I would have just assumed this song was a track left off the band’s XVIII album. Of the “metal” side of the covers, this is my favorite one.

THEM BONES (Alice In Chains): I have been an AIC fan from beginning and of course I was going to be one judgemental bitch about this cover, but the first time I heard it, I yelled out ‘nailed it‘. I didn’t have to be judgmental because it is a great cover. The 18V crew took AIC’s dirty and filthy art and turned it into 18V‘s life erasing, heart pounding, soul crushing art. The band’s cover is an absolute tribute to what AIC has done for music. They took this song out of that Seattle grunge rock, and put it on the shelf with metal and I love it.

SCENTLESS APPRENTICE (Nirvana): This is one of those Nirvana songs I paid attention to musically but not lyrically. The bass is wicked in the original and in the cover 18V turns it up to 11 and blows this cover right out of the water. With the vocals, James manages to capture my attention to listen to the lyrics. It’s just a well done cover. Props to the band on it.

SAD BUT TRUE (Metallica): Going back to the if you’re going to do a cover, there’s 3 right ways to do it, the boys in the band fucking upgraded the shit out of this song. They took an already heavy song and made it heavier. They also gave it a little bit swagger and sex appeal that the original doesn’t have. It’s my 2nd favorite cover of Sad But True. (The 1st being The Hu’s cover and St Vincent‘s lands in the number 3 spot.) Again, a damn solid cover.

TERRIBLE LIE (Nine Inch Nails): First, I’d like to say I am a big NIN fan, but holy crap on a cracker! No one does a NIN cover like 18V. No one. I say this as they have done a cover of “March of Pigs” and while I love NIN’s original, I hands down prefer 18V‘s version. Whew boy, this cover. It’s perfection. I fucking love this cover. It’s my favorite of the “rock” covers and I again prefer 18V‘s version over the original.

DOWN (Stone Temple Pilots): Closing out the album is an excellent STP cover. I kind of forgot how heavy STP was. It was those heavy songs that made me fan of theirs. While keeping the heavy of the original, the band literally and figuratively do a straight up cover for this and it’s great. It’s another cover they do where I actually prefer theirs to the original.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥5 out 5 flames.
Yeah, I’m biased. Band could have covered the McDonald’s jingle for the Big Mac and I probably would have praised it. They rarely do not wrong and that’s one of the many reasons I dig them.

Back in July, this album had re dive into the 18V catalog of studio albums, new to old. You can read the journey on Twitter.