Look at it, in its natural habitat! The rare, temperamental hard-rock/grunge record…
I Oh You Records, 2013
6.4 / 10
Australia seemingly exists in a land without synthesizers and drum machines. A lot of the best music coming out of the land down-under is hard-hitting, trippy, or a combination of the two; the early ’90s crunching distortion is alive and well along with ’60s/70s noodling psychedelia. Violent Soho is a high-octane, loud, rock band straight out of Brisbane, and their album Hungry Ghost feels like it could have been unearthed from a time capsule placed in the Australian desert in the mid nineties. Cranked-up guitars, thudding drums, 4/4 time signatures, verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus, and simple vocal lines carrying the melody. Hungry Ghost will feel instantly familiar, and comfortable for some, and while Violent Soho isn’t the most original act in music today, they make up for it with the consistency of their music.
This is an album that sounds 15 years old, for better and worse. While Violent Soho brings some melodic, heavy music to the table, they also bring all of the blemishes that genre had to offer. Remember the painful half-hearted ballads that feel required by contract? They’re here. The “yeah yeah yeah yeah!” shouts to make up a chorus? They’re here too. Lyrics that aren’t worth the crayon they were written with? Yep. The good news is that there are several things that they do right – “Dope Calypso” and “Liars” are solid rockers that will get your blood moving, and the album as a whole is pretty good all things considered. Chances are, if you like this kind of music, the ballads and the lyrics are something you can either overlook, or it’s you’ve grown accustomed to them anyways.
The bottom line will depend on how interested you are in hearing new ’90s hard rock. If that sounds like something appetizing, Hungry Ghost will be worth your time. If you’re glad Puddle of Mud, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden are done for (well, you know what I mean), then there won’t be much about Hungry Ghost to convince you to revisit the genre. Some of these songs are just dumb, muscled-up rock tunes (“Covered in Chrome”), but there are moments that Violent Soho almost overcomes their genre trappings. The opening track, “Dope Calypso” begins with a guitar riff that feels stolen out of a Deftones playbook, and it doesn’t let up. The final track, self titled track is slower, a bit softer, a bit more relaxed, and it stands as one of the album’s best. Violent Soho may be operating in a tired, used genre, but they’re able to get fresh mileage out of it, and on some occasions, elevate it above its forerunners.
Purchase: Band’s Website