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Eighteen Visions - "Eighteen Visions" (CD)

Eighteen Visions - "Eighteen Visions" CD cover image

"Eighteen Visions" track listing:

1. Our Darkest Days
2. Victim
3. Truth Or Consenquence
4. Burned Us Alive
5. Black And Bruised
6. Broken Hearted
7. Pretty Suicide
8. Coma
9. The Sweetest Memory
10. Last Night
11. Your Nightmare
12. Tonightless

Reviewed by on October 21, 2009

"'Broken Hearted,' which got some radio play, sounds like a plugged-in Backstreet Boys. "

I know I've praised the inclusion of pop sounds in metal in the past, but on their self-titled major label debut, the now-defunct Eighteen Visions takes things way too far. At their heaviest, they sound like a lighter Avenged Sevenfold, and on the light end, they sound like a boy band that's discovered electric guitars. It's an an album so carefully tailored to be a "hit record" that it loses all its soul in the process.

Things start off with clean guitars and a multi-tracked vocal section reminiscent of Def Leppard before the stuttering heavy guitars come in on "Our Darkest Days," which sets up the conflict between rocking hard and producing pop — and lets us know that pop's going to win most of the time. James Hart's vocals have an ever-so-earnest quality even as he sings of being torn apart. Done right, the song would have a subversive quality to it — but it doesn't, and it also feels incomplete, as the band heads right into "Victim," the first single.

"Victim" has a nice punky edge with slightly industrial-sounding guitars. It's a good enough song, though the big chorus is a bit overdone. It's a heavier version of Sum 41, with a grinding metal section near the end, marred by "yeah, yeah" background vocals and a silly Def Leppard-style breakdown.

"Burned Us Alive" starts well, with Hart snarling spiteful lyrics that immediately turn into a boy-band chorus. Even though the lyrics include the word "motherfucker" it's impossible to get past the abrupt shift in style between the chorus and the verses.

"Black And Bruised" is a great rocker that actually manages to include the backing vocals well. Ken Floyd and Keith Barney's grinding guitar riffs and Hart's lyrics about how "you've leeched off me like a fuckin' disease" make this the most effective rocker on the album.

"Broken Hearted," which got some radio play, sounds like a plugged-in Backstreet Boys. Seriously, the chorus could be the creation of any of those 90's boy bands.

"Pretty Suicide" has a good Nine Inch Nails vibe in the beginning, giving way to a slithering rock riff. It's an OK tune, but it descends into a typical post-grunge rock radio chorus. I do like Hart's metalcore scream that makes a quick appearance.

"The Sweetest Memory" and "Tonightless" both feature the boy-band chorus approach, while "Your Nightmare" and "Coma" are pretty much nondescript rockers.

It's unfortunate that Eighteen Visions' strengths got covered up in the effort to become all things for all listeners. Hart's got a good rock voice when he's allowed to go there, and the bursts of metal that pop up throughout the album show a solid understanding of the form if nothing else. But the overblown backing vocals with their sugary pop approach will probably leave most metal fans cold.

Highs: "Victim" and "Black And Bruised" are great rock/metal tunes that use the band's strengths well.

Lows: "Broken Hearted," "Tonightless," and "The Sweetest Memory" all have a boy-band sound that's not appealing at all.

Bottom line: An album too poppy for metal fans — and probably too metal for pop fans.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)