Before I dive into the review I must quote a line from one of my favourite Nirvana songs “Serve The Servants” that may give a bit of context to how I feel towards the kind of music that Violent Soho make and that line is as follows:
“Teenage angst has paid off well now I’m bored and old”
This is a phrase that kept ringing in my head the more I listened to Violent Soho because indeed I am no longer too heavily invested in teen angst. I still love intense / deep sounding music that harvests pain but teen angst; it doesn’t really have a place in my life anymore.
The complications and pain of existence as a 33 year old is way more confusing than anything that happened in my teens and early to mid-twenties. So I guess this affects the way I hear modern angst ridden rock n roll. My first reaction is to always default to that Henry Rollins philosophy “Life won’t break your heart it will crush it” and that to be honest is the kind of rush I need from music in 2016. Something that only the other 33 year old single / childless humans will understand.
In 2016 though I will admit that I’m excited that a band like Violent Soho exists. I’m too old and past it to enjoy it but I get really excited every time I see a young human talk about the passion they have for Violent Soho. The reason I get excited is because this band know the art of writing to the point punk infused rock n roll. I guess you could call it grunge but I hear it as being punk infused rock n roll. You can tell that the members of this band are fans of sophisticated guitar music and they do their best to pay tribute to that and also put their own twist on it. The other reason I get excited is because a band like Violent Soho is the perfect “bridge” band for younger human beings to other cool sophisticated guitar bands and Violent Soho have always been humble enough to put a spotlight on those types of bands which is something I can deeply respect.
Violent Soho are the perfect gateway drug and because I view music as lots of different historical artifacts we need the gateway bands like Violent Soho to help usher the new generation of youth culture to the amazing punk infused rock n roll and indeed the whole history of sound that came before them. So in short, Violent Soho is the perfect history lesson for young human beings but also a reminder for cynical old jerk-off’s like me about the healing power of raw as fuck punk rock n roll.
This brings me to their new album “WACO” – who cares what I think and the science behind why it is good and bad, Violent Soho do a great job of playing rock n roll. This is perfect youth culture music for 2016 and it makes me jealous that I’m not in my teens or early 20’s because if I was this would be a band that I would worship. As a 33 year old jerk-off it makes me nod my head in appreciation. The album goes alright and the songs contained within it will be causing riots in many a mosh-pit during the festival circuit of 2016 and 2017.
As an artistic achievement “WACO” is miles above “Hungry Ghost” and the band has indeed taken their sound to some new places. Despite the production being a bit cleaner and more “world stage” sounding the aggressive nature of the band still has them sounding incredibly tight and sincere. Upon first listen it is quite exciting but the more I pressed play the less impressed I was. When the songs really rock they are angry and full of that teen angst that has fueled young punk rock fused bands for decades. When these dynamics are rinsed and repeated however on later tracks it starts to lack the crunch to resonate.
Humans of my generation who grew up with Silverchair, Jebediah, Powderfinger, Grinspoon, Magic Dirt and You Am I dominating Triple J radio may understand me when I say that Violent Soho are for the people who only ever liked “Frogstomp” and “Freakshow” – I’m more of a “Diorama” and “Young Modern” kind of person but in the grand scheme of things there is no wrong or right when it comes to emotional resonance and music listening habits. I’m sure that the well adjusted humans who read this will understand that I’m purely making an honest claim about a band who makes music that no longer rings the bells in my stomach but to the Violent Soho faithful I’m sure I’ve offended them deeply. Just let me say I’m in no way sorry about that because there was a time when I thought music couldn’t get any better than “Slightly Oddway” by Jebediah but as I grew up I realised that it did. That doesn’t mean I was wrong for feeling the passion for that band back in 1997 it just means that I walked across the bridge and discovered the music and bands that got ignored so that Jebediah could be pushed to the front.
In 2016 there are a lot of great bands that got ignored and overlooked so that Violent Soho could be pushed to the front. There is no one to blame for that because resonance, timing, hard work and a small degree of clever marketing skills will always allow some bands to succeed over others. This is the cruel fate of the music industry and while I believe that a band like The Drones should be front and centre of what modern young humans are listening to the reality is that it isn’t their time or place to be that band.
Right now Violent Soho are the perfect band for modern youth and my excitement regarding their sound purely hinges on the handful of humans in their fanbase who’ll walk across the bridge like I did back in 1997 when I thought bands like Jebediah and Grinspoon were high art, to see that awaiting them on the other side are a bunch of other artists who are equally as talented and hard working who were just a bit unlucky when it came to timing, resonance and the business of art.
By: Dan Newton