Video Premiere: VHS – Are You Afraid of Dragons?


The phone dings. The screen lights up. What’s this? A promo? My eyes scan the email until the letters VHS greet my corneas, causing my eyes to pop out of my head like some sort of horny cartoon wolf. Looks like metal’s back on the menu, boys.

As the Toilet’s resident VHS correspondent, I have a duty to drag my sleepy ass out of hibernation and bring you the news. If you’ve been around the Toilet for a few years, then VHS are a band you know, love, and probably have a small shrine dedicated to somewhere in your darkened apartment.

With a new album, The Quest for the Mighty Riff, coming out later this Spring, them VHS boys got to work cranking out one of the most entertaining music videos I’ve seen since Red Fang’s impeccable early 2010s run.  Not content to stay within the lane of old horror movies, VHS have branched out into epic fantasy and have shifted their style to match that focus. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hochins had this to say:

“We wanted to do something very different for the video. We have always been a band that has embraced the nerd/geek side of things and role playing games definitely go hand in hand with the theme of the album. So we decided to make a video that pays homage yet pokes fun at old school role playing games. It was a lot of fun to put together and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do!”

“For the first single we went with the shortest and most typical VHS song on the album so for the second single we decided to go with the longest song from the album. This one really takes a ton of our different influences and throws it in a blender. The intro is very Autopsy and the verses are very much death n’ roll influenced and then there’s all of the heavy metal riffs and guitar solos. It was such a fun song to put together and is one of our favorites on the album.”

As ever, The Quest for the Mighty Riff features several fine guest vocalists, with none other than James McBain from Hellripper sharing his trademark bark on “Are You Afraid of Dragons?” The collaboration has evidently been in the works for some time, ever since the two groups first worked together in 2018:

“Having James from Hellripper on the song definitely takes the song to the next level. We have been friends ever since we did a split with his death metal side project Lord Rot. It has been awesome to watch the success he has had with Hellripper and his patented snarl was exactly what the song needed!”

I’ve been tracking these boys’ progression for the last five years or so, and in that time their sound has progressed from the warp speed punk/grind/thrash/death of 2019 banger We’re Gonna Need Some Bigger Riffs to a more deliberate, if no less frenetic, brand of idiosyncratic death metal. “Are You Afraid of Dragons?” shows just how much the band are capable of and promises that The Quest for the Mighty Riff isn’t just a catchy title.
The Quest for the Mighty Riff is out through Wiseblood Records on May 19, 2023. You can pick up a copy at Bandcamp.
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