When Eighteen Visions announced ten years ago that they were breaking up, it was very much with not a bang but a whimper. Despite having signed to a major label, their final album Eighteen Visions dropped off the Billboard 200 after only a week, and after a slew of support slots in an attempt to get the album on the road, Eighteen Visions announced that they were breaking up via MySpace. Now, they have returned ten years later with XVIII (Roman numerals for eighteen… clever…).
However, XVIII is far from the limp, lifeless reunion album that we get so many times from bands that come back after a long time away. There are points where the album goes especially heavy, much heavier than one would expect given the hard rock aspects of their previous release. In-keeping with the trend of modern metalcore there are plenty of breakdowns, lots of throat-tearing vocals and more breakdowns than the M1 on any given day.
As well and good as this is, it is easy to get sucked into the album and applauding it for being a decent comeback release, without actually considering what XVIII is made up of. The lyrics and riffs in particular feel generic beyond belief, ditto with the simplistic breakdowns. This Metalcore-By-Numbers style of music is easy to pull off, especially for a band who have already had some practise at it, and though the production is at least a bit more raw and gritty, rather than the squeaky clean production you find on most of these modern metalcore bands, there isn’t much more than decidedly average metalcore elements to make this album any good.
Bands like Atreyu, The Defiled and Beartooth can all be heard in the sound of XVII, which isn’t a great surprise considering the latter two were almost certainly influenced by them Way Back When. The main let-down for the album is the one-paced nature of it all. Each song, despite going pretty hard, rarely varies from an all-out riff storm – normally this would be quite welcome but when the riffs aren’t all that good it becomes somewhat fatiguing. The only respite we get is when the breakdowns come around and the song goes half-time or when the song ends.
XVIII is an album unworthy of hate. It’s easy to get sucked into the simplistic nature of the riffs and breakdowns, and the samples from movies at the start of some of the songs are entertaining enough (although do appear infrequently enough to not be a “thing” but frequently enough that they lose their appeal quite quickly). Boredom, possibly, owing to the stylistic choices outstaying their welcome, and irritation maybe that a band could reunite and make music that we’re already oversaturated with, but XVIII is an album that is far from bad enough to be described as “hateworthy”.