Album: Sickness: Volume I
Everyone always tells you to look on the bright side of life—to heir on the side of positivity and powerful forward thinking. Those people—the glass is half full people—are kind, benevolent and understanding…to a point. Before long, their kindness and understanding fades to naivety and confusion. Their benevolence is nothing but misguided faith and love, trust that the one universal truth that exists in the world is a lie. The truth? Life is a plague. Life is an insidious sickness that slowly erodes at even the sturdiest sanities and the most level headed men and women. This Sickness is the debut album and first installation in a series of punishing metalcore releases by Illinois’ Victims. Infecting the minds of the mosh-friendly, these metalcore murderers are out for blood with Sickness: Volume I, proving to the world that punch, nu-metal influenced heavy music is not just a trend, but a disease that will not rest until all of humanity falls under it’s shadow.
At first you were happy—carefree—living life to the fullest, taking solace in every ray of sunshine and finding delight in every day of your life. But as the seconds dragged on and the minutes made cuts in your skin, you became sick. You started to see things not in vivid color, but in shades of gray; smells became dull and most music began to fall flat on your ears—except for that of Victims. These are the initial symptoms of Sickness: Volume I, carried by the most lethal vector there is; punchy, raw and original musicianship. The festering, fastidious illness that is Victims’ unique blend of raw heaviness and technical instrumentation is punctually hammered home by percussionist Meredith Henderson—who displays dizzying mastery of the drums with everything from quick-hitting blast beats to splashy, jagged fills that force the listener to feel as if they are being dragged through a bed of glass and nails. “Left Behind” does a brilliant job of showcasing Henderson’s remarkable ability to flow from fast, quick jabs to slow, booming patterns with smooth, serene ease—while “The Nine”’s climax is nothing short of mesmerizing with flashy fills and quick pedal work. Overtop of Henderson’s hellacious drumming roar the efforts of Abe Regalado and Anthony Williams, Victims’ two guitarists. Sickness: Volume I is home to an entire arsenal of crafty tones, creepy effects and stellar, shreddy riffs that shred the listener’s sanity into confetti. “The Nine” has a climax that contrasts dissonant, deep chugging against Barrier-esque high-strung tapping, while “Sinister” is home to—what is simply put as—the eeriest, most malicious fragments of fretwork the scene has to offer. Alongside Williams and Regalado, John Michael performs miracles with rolling, flowing bass riffs that rumble alongside Henderson’s precise, jarring percussion. Altogether, these four comprise a crushing, contagious vector that delivers the jagged, lethal illness that is Victims with no filler and no nonsense.
Over the next week, your symptoms shift from errant misnomers in your perception of colors, tastes and tones to full-blown physical maladies. Your skin begins to itch, your nose runs and your eyes water so profusely it feels as if you may go blind. You scratch and pull at your arms and legs until you draw blood, but nothing stops. Victims’ Sickness is not one that fades with time, but rather intensifies—much in the way vocalist Nicho Brewer’s brutalizing, voracious vocals intensify as the album wears on. Brewer’s screams and shouts are instantly recognized as improved over those heard on Victims’ earlier material, but what’s more is how they progress throughout the release, following the story of a soul who has lost their will to carry on. “Cynic” and “The Nine” are raunchy and energetic; showcasing Brewer hit every range on his vocal scale with brilliant ease and perfect consistency. However, as the Sickness progresses, Brewer becomes more and more strung out. By the time “Sinister” begins, Brewer sounds as if he has completely lost his mind—still beautifully displaying everything from a grief-stricken scream to a disemboweling growl—sounding occasionally as if he is rambling to himself rather than actually telling a story. Brewer’s convincing delivery of nearly every syllable he shouts is one of the things that makes Sickness: Volume I rise above the efforts of Victims’ peers. Where other acts are barely able to maintain a façade of insanity and instability, Brewer—and the band as whole—would have a hard time convincing the listener otherwise.
After a week, the infection turns inwards. Now it isn’t just your skin that itches—it’s every inch of your insides, as your organs rot and decay. Your stomach feels as if it is filled with worms and snakes, constantly writhing and turning without reason. Your lungs feel stiff, as each breath feels forced and contrived. This is the result of crushing, creative songwriting meeting intense, unshaking vocals. Aided by guest vocalists Tyler Dennen (of Sworn In, incase you live under a rock) and Jack Kuglich (of Prospects) among others, Brewer leads the charge into the gyri and sulci of the listener’s temporal lobe, spreading throughout their brain and controlling their very function. While Henderson hammers away, breaking bone with every crack of the snare and slicing flesh with every cymbal strike, Regalado and Williams turn the listener’s spine into mulch, roaring down their central nervous system and rending it to raw sewage. What is left unharmed by this physiological assault is steamrolled by Michael’s marvelous bass work, turning entire limbs into pancakes with effortless ease. The take home message here is that Victims’ Sickness is a disease so devastating, it stands above the minor maladies and infections inflicted by the band’s colleagues—a plague so severe, not even the CDC could contain it.
Life doesn’t have winners or losers. It doesn’t have survivors or thrivers—it has Victims. The Bastard Children of Gift Giver, Kingmaker and Barrier, Victims are relentless. Ensuring that no listener will escape their Sickness unscathed, these Chicago-based crushers are relentless in their infection, and they will not be happy until every man, woman and child is sick with their disease.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Kingmaker, Slipknot, Sworn In, Demolisher, Gift Giver
By: Connor Welsh