ALBUM REVIEW: Blood Youth – Visions of Another Hell
There’s a lot to unpack around Visions of Another Hell. It’s Blood Youth’s final record with long-time vocalist Kaya Tarsus who has now left the band, handing the torch to his successor, before the album is even released. Does this mean the band’s latest effort is doomed to failure with one of its key components no longer part of it, or does it lend even more weight to a collection of tracks that are truly trapped like a moment in time?
Positively, it’s mostly the latter. To be blunt, this is the best Blood Youth have ever sounded. The post-hardcore angst of the band’s initial output has been replaced by a grim nu-metal menace that suits them much better. Visions of Another Hell often evokes the vibe of a slightly less visceral Iowa-era Slipknot. Where that band was unhinged and felt close to an explosion at any moment, Blood Youth sound tensely coiled but still seething. Korn circa Life As Peachy would be another apt comparison, though Blood Youth still have one eye on those modern, melodic choruses in a way Korn never seemed to back in the day.
In a lot of ways, it’s not dissimilar to the blend of modern and classic influences exhibited by Code Orange. Thankfully though, Blood Youth avoids that particular band’s increasingly eye-rolling posturing. All these tracks sound authentic and vital, largely due to a combo of the conviction of the vocal performance and the sharply considered immediacy of the instrumentals.
Cannily, Blood Youth have embraced both classic nu-metal style riffage and modern production, helping to flesh out their darker, grimier ideas with textures that feel very authentic. The more the band leans into the dark, the better they sound. The more melodious and closer to the light they stray…it loses a little something. Spooky suits them better than being earnest does. See the excellent, sprawling 7-minute closer Dogma as an example.
Which isn’t to say it only sounds good when it’s abrasive. The hooks are strong throughout these tracks, but they’re much effective when aimed directly at your gut, or hovering menacingly over your shoulder, and less so when they’re presented right in front of your face. Open Window vs Iron Lung is a perfect example of this. The chorus of the former feels like it’s pushing a little too hard, grasping for your heartstrings. Whereas Iron Lung has a refrain that lodges itself directly inside your brain and point-blank refuses to leave.
Visions of Another Hell is certain to be a hit, at the very least in parts, with those old enough to have nostalgia for classic nu-metal or those who missed it the first time around and wish they hadn’t. There’s a lot to like here, and it’s easy to imagine how vital and intense some of these will sound live between the angular rhythms, bouncing arrangements, and tremendously passionate parting vocal performance, but on record, the spit and polish of studio production is occasionally an uncomfortable push against the compelling pull of the more instinctive and aggressive moments on the record.
Standout Tracks: Iron Lung, Dogma
For Fans Of: Slipknot, Code Orange, Korn
Written by: Calum McMillan