Villainy – Dead Sight

A dark party

The New Zealand rock band Villainy, have just spent months touring their home country and are now ready to reconnect with their Australian audience. Their new album Dead Sight, will be released on November 6th, and luckily I was able to have a listen already, in order to prepare you for some ultimate rock moments. 

The first track off the new album is entitled Give Up The Ghost. The loud and energetic atmosphere off this song is a good introduction to the rest of the album, which is just as you’d expect, very rock.  The immediately established party vibe is not only derived from a mixture of synth sounding guitar grooves, but also the daring drums and echoed lyrics that give the song a certain edge which may just convince one to listen to the rest of the album. 

Villainy make use of a distant vocalisation throughout almost the entire record that I find rather unproductive, as I find just as much significance in the content of musical messages as in their accompanying melody. Love & War, Nothing Ever Changes and Tantalus were specific examples of this, partially even drowning out the voice of lead singer Neill Fraser. Occasionally, it felt like the tonalities of the singers were being overwhelmed by their instruments. Whilst sometimes this synthesized sound really matches the vibe of the alternative rock album, and restrains my ears from bleeding through the loud screams which have been mastered down to normal volumes, I did not enjoy this effect for the majority of the album. I found it difficult to understand the lyrical content that surely plays a large significance in the statement of this album. But then again, I don’t believe that a sing-along kind of album is what Villainy was trying to achieve. 

A good exception to the detachment that I partially experienced though, was the album’s the second last track, Ginzu Knifing, where the musical content became much clearer. In fact, at times, the vocals remaining in the background allows one to focus on the instrumental abilities of the band. For example, Safe Passage, continues in the same upbeat and buoyant manner as the preceding songs. Yet, I personally enjoyed the instrumental parts on this track, clearly presenting the guitar and drums with an outspoken voice. As you may be able to tell by now, I maintain a reasonable love/hate relationship with some of the musical explorations on Dead Sights. However, the band's talent to compose real rock songs is undeniable, with emphasis on the simultaneously well assembled mixture of instrumentals and vocals. 

The subsequent song of discussion is also the band's new single; Syria is not exactly what I expected. Ranging from hard to soft rock, I certainly appreciated the spineless aspects of this particular tune. Additionally, its music video highlights the band's live capability, as well as their immense talent for head shaking. Sometimes the almost pop-ish punk influences of this band’s sound take over, reminding me of a 2011 Good Charlotte kind of feel. 

Nothing Ever Changes continues to uphold the alternative-rock genre that the four-piece is well established for. Yet, the title is intriguing to me, as it makes me wonder if the next songs will vary on a larger scale. I suppose the album is consistent, but that also means that only certain tracks, such as Dead Sight, really stood out for me. Its promising guitar intro will already have your head shaking along subconsciously, as you try to, for example, write a serious review. This groovy tune is highlighted by its definite punk-rock influences. On the other hand, I am having trouble finding different ways to describe some other tracks off the album, such as the National Guard, and No Future.  This isn’t because they are boring or dreary, the album just has a curious alternative rock sound, which is predominant, throughout. The consistency is actually enjoyable and makes for a similar, exciting mood for the duration of all eleven tracks.

Once again, whilst the detached voices throughout the album are probably the exact effect that the Villainy wanted to achieve, they didn’t quite match my taste. If I wanted to hear vocalists seemingly fight to be heard over their instruments, I would go see an amateur gig with poor sound equipment. That being said, the weird vocals did make the album more unique, and their consistency throughout is thought-provoking, leaving me wondering about the purpose of this remote influence. In reality, this album has been mixed and mastered by some very well-known and highly skilled producers, and my unschooled self is probably just too unappreciative of the unique way this alternative rock band has made music.  

All in all, Dead Sight is definitely a party album. I would describe it as that kid in the classroom who throws paper balls at the teacher when they aren’t looking, but then is seemingly well behaved when she turns around. Hopefully, that will make more sense once you’ve heard it. It’s got some heavy guitar riffs, promising basslines and explosive drum loops. I would just recommend to listen to the album with quality headphones or speakers so you can actually catch some of those intriguing vocals.

If you are in the mood to dance your butt off, scream around without inhibition and bang your head like a pro, then this album will be the right one for you.
-Tara Zupp


Album Details

Album Title: Dead Sight
Artist: Villainy
Record Label: Warner Music (NZ)