Album: 10 Code (EP)
You’ve done things you aren’t proud of. Everyone has done things they aren’t proud of, but what you’ve done is different. The crimes you’ve committed—against yourself, against others, against the world—are the product of a slow, steady decline into insanity: a complete regression of the ego into its most raw and unfiltered state. This mindset is the mindset which fuels the rampaging, bitter and violent insanity sound on 10 Code, the latest EP by Illinois’ resident expert in hate-filled beatdown metalcore act Villains. Endless amounts of technically infused, in-your-face heaviness laced with unfathomable dissonance and ruthless anger tear through the listener’s eardrums like a razor through flesh, driving them to a previously unattainable level of criminal insanity.
It started surreptitiously—a twinge in the back of your head, a red blur forming at the outermost reaches of your vision. Slowly, but surely, however, the corners of your eyes get a deeper, darker red, and the twinge in the back of your head hardens into a full-blown ache. Every sound screeches like nails on a chalkboard, and every voice shreds your ears like a Rottweiler shredding a steak. These voices cause the same unmistakable, unimaginable pain which fuels the vocals throughout 10 Code. From the first words of “10-56” to the very last syllable of “Black,” every utterance is screamed, shouted, bellowed or spoken with nothing but the purest form of hatred for mankind. Whether its directed inwards—seen best in “10-56”—or at the world in general, as heard in “The Recluse” or “Directions to Servants,” Villains constantly attack the listener with a varied vocal onslaught—a mixed bag of bellows and shrill screams—which rends their brain defenseless against the instrumental barrage which follows.
Before long, it hurts to even look at lights, and you can’t even find the motivation or energy to go outside. The only thing that feels worthwhile is brooding, scheming on how to quench this thirst. But the more you think, the more you reflect, the more you realize that the only thing which will slake this lust is blood—whether its yours or another’s hardly seems to matter. After the vocals wear down the listener’s sanity and tear down their mental defenses, the cunning technicality and sinister heaviness of the instrumentation is free to wreak havoc. This is best seen in “Black,” the closing track to Villains’ 10 Code. “Black” starts off with a grimy, intrusive groove which slowly deteriorates into leaden, crushing brutality. Driven in with punctual, pounding percussion and low, punchy bass, riffs like the one found in “Black” and the climactic breakdown of “Presage” are unique in their heaviness. Rather than just a “chugs and squealies” approach, Villains craft catchy, contagious riffs that utilize odd time signatures and unpredictable leaps across the fretboard to invade the listener’s head and stay secured there, safely waiting out any siege the listener might throw their way. All while, as they insidiously sit and wear on the listener’s brain, they drive the deterioration of the listener’s sanity, pushing them closer and closer to the edge.
After what feels like years of living out of your apartment, hardly eating and never sleeping, you’ve reached the breaking point. You’ve quit your job, stolen to get by and threatened murder on countless people—now that you think about it, maybe you’ve even committed murder. The labyrinth that is your mind has long since condemned you to a slow, miserable death; lost and alone, with nothing but your thoughts. At the end of the day, this is what 10 Code does to the listener. Villains unleash a fierce, bitter attack both vocally and instrumentally which combines to mimic not just insanity, but criminal insanity—verging on the suicidal and sociopathic. Where “Man of the Evening” and “Direction to Servants” drive the listener to injure others, “The Recluse” and “Black” urge the listener to injure themselves, attempting at recompense for the crimes the first half of the EP committed. The border comes in the form of “Death and Serenity,” which features a buttery, smooth and dream-like beat (which resembles an Apollo Brown B-Side) and a monologue concerning the relationship between Villains’ vocalist and his father. Once this subtle, serene track concludes, however, any rage the listener had towards the world is directed inward, with no mercy to be found.
You are no more. Long since lost to the misery inflicted by Villains’ latest release, the only things which remains of you are faint memories. 10 Code however will live on vibrantly for years to come in the down-tempo scene. Combining intense technicality and intense anguish, Villains have created an EP which will serve as a bastion for the efforts of their piers’ future efforts.
For Fans Of: Sworn In, Barrier, Kingmaker, Widow, Monsters
By: Connor Welsh