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Violent Soho – Waco – Album Review

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Violent Soho
Release Date: 18 March 2016
Review by Sam Sweeney

In the three short weeks since the release of latest album, Waco, Violent Soho have managed to; Debut at the top of the ARIA Charts, sell out an entire nation-wide tour, and attain the #1 position on the Australian iTunes album charts. All the while riding on the overwhelmingly positive reception of Waco’s chaotic, modernised 90’s alt-rock sound that is so characteristic of Violent Soho. Though usually a sceptic in regards to the gospel of music charts, I’m absolutely positive that Violent Soho are extremely deserving of such high praise; they’ve come a long way from their humble beginnings in order to quite possibly become one of Australia’s best modern rock outfits.

Waco opens with, How to Taste, with what seems to be an obvious tribute to the sound of Soho’s 2013 release, Hungry Ghost.  As with previous records, a distinct modified-grunge sound is evident in this track and remains omnipresent throughout, Waco. Blanket, follows, and complete with HEAVY drums, a dynamic bass-line and the semi-aggressive, unrefined vocals of vocalist Luke Boerdam, is one of the key powerhouse tracks from the album.

Viceroy, the first single and easily my favourite song on the album, demonstrates the succinct transition from Soho’s aggressive version of grunge-rock into a significantly more refined sound. Luke Henery’s bass, in bold contrast to its usual supplementary purposes beneath the ever-dominant guitars and vocals, has its three minutes and fourteen seconds of fame; as uncomplicated as it is, it’s essential to the stripped back verses of the song. Both lyrically and in terms of the musical build up, the chorus strikes me as vaguely relevant to classic Blink 182; for some obscure reason, the lyrics “I ditched you Saturday night. Cause I want you to know. Take a photograph, it’s gonna last longer” seem like some kind of distant homage to the themes of Blink’s Enema of the State. I’m sure this was not intentional whatsoever, however any band that can evoke some kind of connection to Blink 182 without sounding like every other pop-punk band ever are worthy of praise in my books.

Fourth track, So Sentimental, once more draws on the classic Soho sound, while also switching out the previous energy of the album for a slower, more sentimental sound. Second single, Like Soda, follows – a song with a solo vocal opening that will no doubt incite an all-inclusive sing-along at every single show it’s performed at. No Shade and Slow Wave continue the more relaxed sound introduced by, So Sentimental. At this point in the album, it seems as if the fast paced beginning of Waco, is long gone – something that is, surprisingly, very beneficial. Despite the dominance of the reduced tempo and controlled nature of the latter half of the album, Waco remains equally as Violent Soho-esque through Boerdam’s unrefined vocals, steady drum and bass lines and an intricate relationship between melodic and rhythmic guitar components.

Waco, closes with what seems to be a gradual recap of the album; eighth track, Evergreen, reintroduces elements of the aforementioned energy that featured at the album’s beginning, before giving way to the most emotionally driven track on the album, Holy Cave. The lyrics speak of nostalgia, memory and a ‘holy cave;’ something I gathered to be an expression of a craving for comfort and internal serenity, and are hence universally applicable in their content.

Violent Soho’s Waco, is, holistically, a collection of tributes to all of the band’s influences – most importantly the rough, occasionally disorganised sound of 90’s grunge legends Nirvana and The Vines, and the distinctive sound of Soho established in their previous albums. There is enough old-Soho in Waco, for fans to thoroughly enjoy, even after unavoidable comparisons to, Hungry Ghost, and enough exploration of new sounds to develop a ‘new Soho’ that has clearly cemented the band amongst some of Australia’s essential modern rock bands – they’ll be here, forever.

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