Review: Vandal X – God Knows

77075_10151176287253883_2050433331_nVehemently outrageous hardcore, mixed with noise, rock’n’roll, psychedelia – and have some tendencies to drone. Compromised by a duo that could’ve been a whole orchestra, for all that you folks care. Günther Liket and Bart Timmermans are tiling up the world throughout a maniacally combination of wickedness. The first track which is also the title-track, “God Knows“, is a rattling piece of noisiness. Focusing on the wide sphere of combining spontaneous, no-wave-ish vocals with the stop-and-go technique of a rather monotonous but rhythmic arsenal of guitars, baselines, figurative drums – with spontaneous outbursts of playful and angered vocals. Nothing is holy when their vile notion of virtual reality is colliding with the place that we call Earth. This formula seems virtually unchanged at a first glance, within the next song “How Sick Is That“, but changes rapidly the more you get into it. Here’s more of the noisy and uncontrollable rock’n’roll you’ve always wished you could master. With atonal messages, spoken with worthiness – Vandal X are the true vandals of the confined space. Getting claustrophobia is easy, as you’re pushed to the edge of a tiny room.

The reverberation, usage of instruments and everything else is very minimalistic and monotonic at nature, but also rightfully knit together in folds within the workspace they’re shackled to. It’s one of those songs that end with a click, rather than with a bang. It also feels like it’s shorter, even though it had almost the same life-span in time and continuum that the first song had. However, with the song “Let Everybody Know“, changes the whole picturesque and depressing image of what they are. With the clandestine, ear-ripping pieces of astonishing riffs in the chorus – will mark you for life. This is how it would be if you played the guitars melody with a spike, hailing the unconventional logic of no-wave. Because there are many nuances that are exactly the same, even though they’re working in different departments of sound generally. Put your ear to this song, because it’s certainly one of those you shouldn’t miss. Where a detail becomes the whole thing you appreciate, rather than the whole sound-scape. Here comes an odd gesture, by including a cover on the Front 242 song “No Shuffle“, they simply show that they’re not confined to the chains of simplicity. I’m thinking that the general drone nature of the song, the noisiness and crackling landscape would make for a great impression on the “authors” above.

It helps to shed a light on the bigger picture, since it doesn’t have to be a slow-paced mystery of sound. This song is a whirlwind of drone, noise rock and general hardcore feelings. No hard feelings at all, just a brutally laden concrete landscape that will make you chalked on the inside. Whilst they let a little bit of the noise go in the song “Vengeance“, there’s still a hint of it to be found in the underlying bricks making up the low-brow of the song. However, they let a little bit of it go, making the overlaying sound-scape heard, instead of being contained within a wall of noise. It escalates quickly, simply to be put in place once again. As you feel the suspense, it suddenly bounces back to the original state of noisy mindfulness. Afterwards going on a fit of rage, smashing everything in the vicinity. Crashing cymbals, gentle but distorted riffs and a void of vocals being poured out of the bottomless gulf. When the song “One Shot In The Head” comes on, it makes you feel a little bit of fatigue. Because the formula is the same, but what saves the day is the approach. Every time you switch to a new song, there’s always something in the structure that is replaced with something else. This song continually makes its way around the harder rock’n’roll, with excellent drumming and precise riffs.

Wonderfully laden baselines that would end up with a smack in your face. In the end, it’s as enjoyable as you make it yourself. Let’s face it, you’d have to have a pinch of endurance to endure it. Hard noise rock for real hard-knocks. Some of the conventional ways of music finds its way back, as the progression of the next song “Murphys Law” is pretty foreseeable. But damn, when they let loose the aggressive riffs and the huge melodies, you simply raise your fist and pounce the roof. The stretches between riffs, convention and the unconventional way of doing things are widespread. The only thing I end up hearing is: “Let’s keep spending, let’s keep feeding the machine“, because this is the definition of evil. They speak of it in a clear message, bombarding us with their tomahawk guitars, flamethrower vocals in the barren landscape. It feels like the song “Fuck Up Body” is simply a continuation of the aforementioned song. Since Günther Liket also is a member of Mong Dosus, it feels like they’ve borrowed a bit of their spooky, intergalactic landscape when it comes to the general atmosphere. It might not be the first you’d think of, but it adds up. In this song, the baseline is simply mean. Reminding you of the greater days of post-punk and how they turned in to a churning apocalyptic scenario in between noise, rock’n’roll, hardcore and drone. You’d simply have to end this song with the memorable line: “Everybody know, what kind of fuck-up you are“.

If I’m still coughing up soot, I’ll tell you it’s because of the even grimmer song “Loudmouth“, which comes after. They never cease to amaze, because it’s crazy how they can mold everything they touch, accordingly. Simply by picking out some elements of the song, replacing it with either a huge drone-landscape, or tuning up the hardcore influences, lowering their guard. Much can be said, but they’re at least not out of ideas. The further in you get, the more it seems to get grimmer but more clear what their message is lyrically, as they face the “machine” together with the listener. As if the attitude didn’t need to be heightened, they tighten the screws and lock you up for a “Scapegoat Blues“. Generally, the melodies of this song are amazing and showcase their skill within every department of what they know. This is one of those songs you’d wish you would’ve heard live, as the scales move up and down in the riff-department. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those songs that should’ve been longer, because of the general enjoyability. It’s hard to accept that it’s over so quickly, but sometimes you’ll have to trade into acceptance. Well, you need some more psychedelia in the mix, as if there weren’t enough atonal and sprawling messages being conveyed absolutely everywhere.

With the song “Help Me“, it’s really a cry for help. Melodically, this is probably one of their best songs. Quickly escalating into something in between noisy rock’n’roll psychedelia to the no-wave atonality that everyone would need in certain situations. I would call them situationists, because they know damn well how to use the situation for their means – within their means and realizing how to not be a burden. Last song on this album is “One Step Ahead”, which might not be the most intriguing song on this album. But in the way the song leaves you totally jaw-broken, broke and apathetic – it’s safe to say that they’ve succeeded with at least that. To put you in a trance-like state and rob you of all of your dignity. Undress you spiritually, desecrate everything that is even remotely unbroken and with an attitude that is indescribable for now. After listening to this album, I don’t like the general monotonous side, but they sure can create songs. Now I’m left like a blank paper and have to start all over again.

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