Inter-Review: Viscera/// – City of Dope and Violence
A look at the new EP and a chat with the band, all for the low low price of some of your precious time.
I’ll make it brief: City of Dope and Violence was my most anticipated release of 2018, and it did absolutely not disappoint. Viscera/// were already close to the top of my list last year, and they’re residing in the general area again this year. A shout out to Old Man Doom for his review of 3 | Release Yourself Through Deserate Rituals is long overdue, by the way – thanks for turning me on to this band! They kindly agreed to an email interview for the occasion of the EP’s release, and I’ve combined that with my thoughts on the new material. Enjoy!
Since I couldn’t find any interviews with you guys at all, I’d like to start with some basics. You’ve been around for almost twenty years now – how did it all start? How did the current lineup eventually get together?
Hi everybody, Mike (B., vocals & guitar – ed. note) speaking.
Well, we were born as a high-school band in 2000. I am the only original member, but actually G.C. entered not too long after, so he’s to be considered as original too. We went through a long list of line-up changes, but now we feel finally settled since Matia joined two years ago.
What brought about the change from the more straightforward deathgrind of your first two EPs to your current style? Were there particular influences you drew from or did you have a certain goal in mind? Did you add the “///” to the name to signify a cut with what you’d done before or purely for the sake of logo symmetry?
We have always been very wide music listeners and we always knew that we’d never be stuck into a defined-genre zone. In particular, we are crazed for 80s and 90s tunes; new wave, industrial, harsh noise, but also pop, new wave, post punk etc etc. It would have been a shame if we kept for ourselves this knowledge instead of trying to make it fit in our opus.
The logo mystery is simply explained: we’ve been threatened by an ominous band to be sued if we didn’t change our monicker within a very short time. We were young and stupid, so we decided not to take the risk and I came up with the fucking stripes because they were symmetrical, they were three (like us back then) and they looked cool. I still think they look cool, until the notorious sport brand will notice and will sue us for real.
I think I remember reading that the three albums form a sort of conceptual trilogy – the naming sure seems to suggest it. Was there a unifying concept? Where does Jim Jones, who the third album revolves around, fit into it all?
The “saga” was called “the trilogy of perception” because it basically was a long-term study of the inner self along the way to aldulthood. Of course it’s very personal, that’s why I often used metaphors to express myself. 3 is the last phase, the final destruction of the self. Reverend Jim Jones is the perfect sponsor for this concept, because he utterly represents the quintessence of failure, paid with the extreme sacrifice.
That brings us to the present, so let’s have a look at the new material. “Marauders” kicks off City of Dope and Violence with a riff that will make anyone familiar with the previous album feel right at home, but while the song would have erupted into blackened crust on 3, the rhythm here is slow at first while the guitar continues its brightly shimmering almost-drone, accompanying those beuatiful clean vocals. It takes a while for everything to gradually build to a climax, harsh vocals leading up to an eventual blast beat part. But the song soon completes a bell curve by ebbing away into a calm, prolonged third segment that picks up the atmosphere from the beginning and sees singer Mike B. briefly delve into a vocal range unheard before. Overall, the EP makes probably the most use of his cleans since their second full-length, their calmest album to date, but while the aggression is similarly dialed back here, the driving urgency of 3 is still palpable.
“Marauders” almost seems like a culmination of everything you’ve done on your albums; there’s the calm of 2, the trippyness of Cyclops, and the sound and songwriting finesse of 3. Did you approach writing the EP and the song in particular with an eye towards your previous work or did this just come naturally?
The question is very relevant. I consider C.O.D.A.V. the summa of what we produced so far and yes, the writing process had been very natural and loose. We felt so comfy with the songs that we decided to record the EP 80% live, with only vocals and the additional guitar track recorded later.
Second track “C.O.D.A.V.” moves things into electronic territory with an ambient noise soundscape – a collaboration with outside artists – that is overlayed with samples of voices. While previous offerings would regularly feature shorter, interlude-like tracks, this is one of the bleakest examples yet and indeed manages to conjure images of a desolate city, the former hustle and bustle of which now echo only faintly between grey, derelict buildings.
Is City of Dope and Violence referring to an actual city or is it a metaphor for a dark, corrupt place?
50/50; I referred to Cremona, the city where the band was founded, but the one lost in my teenage memories, the late 90s. Everything was different back then, and also little cute towns like the one where I grew up couldn’t dodge the degrade. There’s a main story that I don’t want to reveal, plus a bigger scale of related or similar events, plus my personal contact with the situation.
“C.O.D.A.V.” makes heavy use of samples; can you give us an idea of what the voices are talking about?
Me and the guys are also cinema enthusiasts and good samples are so easy to find when you fill yourself with movies and videos in general. A good sample can completely change the approach to a song, making it even better than it already is. In all of V///’s releases you will find samples.
The C.O.D.A.V. sample is an interview with an old woman about the a deadly case of domestic violence that occured nearby. She knew the victim and she is definitely shattered. GUESS WHERE?
The noise eventually bleeds into third track “Spirit of ’86.” Another calm beginning with clean vocals, and again, the aggression one might expect doesn’t kick in. Instead, this may well be one of the “lightest” songs Viscera/// have put forth so far. No blasting, no d-beats, and no screams; instead, an upbeat, bouncy rhythm and wonderfully soft, often catchy vocal harmonies courtesy of guest singers Vespertina and Mangiabinari. Again, the song moves through several distinct parts, but keeps its mood very steady throughout. I am again reminded of the calmness of the second record, but even more so of the vibe of the covers of 80s songs that the band has done in the past.
You’ve previously covered “Nobody’s Diary” by Yazoo as well as New Order’s “True Faith”, and “Spirit of ’86”, with its focus on melody and almost “pop” feeling, sounds like it’s coming from a similar place. Is there indeed some sort of connection? What do the songs you covered – and similar music from the 80s and 90s – mean to you?
This is the final tribute to our passion, man. You can immediately feel when a metal band covers a non-metal song with serious or parodistic intent. We love the songs we cover, and we chose them wisely because we wanted to be 100% sure they they had fit with our style, somehow.
What are your plans for the immediate future? Are you headed right back to the studio or will there be a tour? Are you already harbouring ideas for concepts and themes you want to tackle on upcoming releases?
We are now experiencing a sort of mental vacation from the band. We are not pushing for anything and we’ll just take a short easy time. Of course we’ll get some gig in 2019 and slowly dive into V4’s writing process.
Thank you for taking the time! If there’s anything you’d like to add, the floor is yours.
I would like to send a hug to one of my best buddies Alessandro, who recently became dad. So proud of you, dude.