Artist: One Vote for Violence
Nearly three years ago, when I first discovered Californian deathcore outfit One Vote for Violence, I didn’t think their name would resonate as much with the current socio-political atmosphere as it does now. They probably didn’t either—I mean, Hell, who would? But with more and more votes accruing for our current president, more and more violence blossomed. That violence begets more violence, such that we’ve become so inundated in it that we regard it as normal. What’s more ritualistic abuse of police power? What’s another school shooting? What’s more hatred against those foreign, and even those domestic? It leads to a common end:
With the band’s debut full-length release, One Vote for Violence make good on the promises uttered on their breakout EP—promises of, you guessed it—violence. Boasting over a half-hour of bone-busting breakdowns and skin-rending riffs contrasted against atmosphere and touches of ethereality, Desolation is a well-rounded, compact and crushing deathcore package that stands to remind many of the old heads why they fell in love with the genre, and gives new heads something to latch onto as we entire the new year.
Desolation is a blend of modern, groovy deathcore with raw, raunchy traditional touches and moments of atmosphere to provide contrast where appropriate. While starting out with all cylinder blazing on “State of Desperation” and “Illusive,” Desolation takes the listener on a journey through blistering heaviness and ethereality both, in great thanks to percussionist Brent Carpenter. Carpenter’s drumming shines throughout Desolation—“State of Desperation” is one such example, as are “Defiler” and “Mental Collapse.” However, other tracks like “Writhe” and “No Trace” see Carpenter work hand-in-hand with bassist Joseph Guerra to lay the foundation for ambience and a deceiving sensation of calm that contrasts the crushing nature of the songs at the beginning and end of the record. Carpenter and Guerra are the backbone to One Vote for Violence, and guitarist Aaron Cuenca branches out from that backbone to craft riffs that check boxes ranging from beefy to tedious and technical. Cuenca’s work throughout Desolation is much of what gives the record its sense of diversity—from the atmosphere that reigns during the middle portion of the record, to the cataclysmic one-two punch that ends the album (“Mental Collapse” and “Human Extinction”). Where there aren’t many moments that will drop the listener’s jaw from sheer technicality (“Writhe” gets close, as does “Harsh Reality”), that isn’t the point of One Vote for Violence—it’s violence, remember?
Where vocals are concerned, One Vote for Violence absolutely do not disappoint. It isn’t often a band features a vocalist like SPITE’s Darius Tehrani and can still go toe-to-toe with him on the self-same track. Frontman Michael Salazar does just that. Hitting a broad variety of styles with remarkable intensity and endurance, Salazar steps up his work immensely from the band’s debut EP. “Writhe” and the record’s introductory track, “State of Desperation” do excellent jobs at highlighting Salazar’s skills, where “Human Extinction” sees him stepping up to the plate with one of heavy music’s most well-known frontmen, Darius Tehrani, and still hold his own. Salazar’s work throughout Desolation—while maybe not quite yet at the level of household name is beyond impressive and gives One Vote for Violence something solid to aid in their efforts to stand out among the growing deathcore community.
Desolation might not reinvent the wheel, be better than sliced bread, or anything like that. It won’t change the game, but I can’t think of a better way to start off 2020 than with—for lack of a better term—one ass beater of a deathcore record. Laden with jarring breakdowns, immense riffs, gallons of grooves and atmospheric elements that add depth to One Vote for Violence’s dynamic, this quartet’s debut full length record does everything right without doing anything wrong, making it an outstanding addition to any heavy music enthusiast’s catalog.
For Fans Of: SPITE, Bodysnatcher, Oceano
By: Connor Welsh