VHS Go Interstellar with Gore From Beyond the Stars
I’ve always had a sincere admiration for artists who own exactly what they’re doing, unclouded by layers of irony or distance. Sometimes music should be exactly what is advertised. Unless what is advertised is Nazi shit, in which case fuck off.
Ontario-based outfit VHS delivers exactly what is promised without an iota of Nazi shit. Residents of this here Toilet will no doubt recognize the name, as VHS have been around for a minute and have over the years developed their death/thrash/grind/glam hybrid into a tasty and instantly recognizable stew. Their new album, Gore from Beyond the Stars, delivers what has made their career so exciting to date: great guttural and harsh vocals, songs structured around heavy yet still memorable riffs, and an undeniably fun atmosphere of horror movie mayhem.
Written and recorded entirely during COVID lockdown, Gore from Beyond the Stars picks up where VHS’s 2019 album We’re Gonna Need Some Bigger Riffs left off—short blasts interspersed with longer songs based around an overall horror movie theme. Taking this theme to its logical conclusion, them VHS boys have blasted off in search of further horrors.
Thankfully, what they found in space still hits all the same pleasure centers as their previous work. “Earth Girls are Easy” is a highlight, meshing glam vocals with the band’s usual growls and featuring simple but consistently melodic guitar work. Meanwhile songs like “Nostromo” lean in the opposite direction with the band’s more explicit death metal roots on display, featuring a slinky solo over violent down-tuned riffs and some of the band’s most guttural vocals to date.
Speaking of highlights, I can’t find enough words to describe how much I enjoy the band’s lone instrumental, “Space Jam.” From its insanely on-the-nose title to drummer Andy Middaugh’s slick rhythmic variations under the melodic surface, it hits in all the right places and may be the only example of an instrumental that feels far too short. “Space Jam” is on my short list for favorite songs from 2020, even if it isn’t a tie-in for a Looney Toons/Michael Jordan vehicle.
One innovation that improves Gore… over its predecessor is the addition of cheesy horror voiceovers at the beginning of several songs. While I’ve written previously about disliking album interludes, VHS have managed to hit the sweet spot between establishing a consistent theme without wasting precious runtime on material that isn’t actually their songs. I’d argue that the ominous intro to “Sealed with a Kiss” wouldn’t have the same impact without the few seconds of sampled voiceover.
For those of us with COVID anxiety-riddled, sleep deprived brains, there are certain cliché terms that immediately come to mind when listening to a new album. Allow me to demonstrate: “This slays/rips/whips sack.” This is generally considered bad writing, or at the very least lazy.
But clichés exist for a reason. Gore from Beyond the Stars slays, rips, and whips sack. Go fucking buy a copy.
4 out ov 5 Stop-Motion Space Parasites
Gore from Beyond the Stars is out now. You can pick up a physical or electronic copy over at VHS’s Bandcamp page.