The more things change…the more things stay the same. Certainly that’s the feel that you get here, some three years since the last new album Hex-Angel (there has of course been a steady stream of compilations of older stuff in the meantime, so it is hardly as if we have had the chance to forget anything).
As you play the album, opening track Wound sounds exactly like the quintessential VAC track. Swirling electronics, a mid-paced beat, and heavily distorted, hissed vocals that steadfastly refuse to bring the track to attention, instead confining it to the background. Rather more surprising is Parasite, where the same pattern is followed, except that the vocals have no distortion, but instead are dropped even further into the mix, with a pretty piano refrain at least allowing a little variation.
Discolored Eyes is another that is all-too-familiar. A heavier beat, but the same old distortion on the vocals, and seemingly re-hashing an idea about two albums back. Crushed is where things get really interesting, though. Starting with an acoustic refrain, a rumbling bassline appears along with the rest of a track that is so-Cure-like it could quite happily fit on Disentegration. As a bit of hero-worship, it is flattery of the highest order (and it really is good), but in terms of offering something new it does nothing of the sort.
Disconnected Nightmare is yet another re-hash from the past, and despite Polyester Meth Zeus‘s fabulous title, it doesn’t offer much of interest either. Kashmir Crack Krishna, does, though. It opens with beats like the clanking of machinery, before opening up into a frantic, dense meshing of pulsing beats and seething vocals. A shame that it is far too short.
Ghost In The Circuit is yet another familiar one, opening like the masterful Slut from some years back – and lumbering on with no vocals at all for nearly six minutes. Machine is interesting, in that VAC seem to have been taking notes from the creepy atmospheres that Mind.In.A.Box so successfully create, and in doing so almost pulls off another carbon copy.
Things finally come back to life again for Lust (For Blood), using an unusually prominent bassline and a more urgent beat, that actually succeeds in you sitting up and taking notice…only to send you back to sleep again for Blood, apparently meant to be a companion to the previous track, but it is simply a slower version of the same, with the whole mixed like it was meant to disappear into a fog, and it is twice as long. Psychoaktive Landscape takes us into bad-trance territory, for seven mind-numbing minutes, while closing track Ghost Regen finally introduces something of interest – skittering drum’n’bass beats…for a while at least, before dumping us back where we were before.
And that is the whole problem with this album. For all the raging against the music industry – and the world – that VAC do, it is like nothing here has ever changed. Every album now appears to be a subtle rehash of the last, to the point where it is verging on self-parody – but there is no humour, or barely a flicker of emotion at all here. They can continue to plough this lonely furrow – few other bands sound anything like this, granted – but unless they start to adapt, they will die out. And on this showing, I’m not sure I’d care if I heard anything more from them in the future.