Viet Cong - Viet Cong - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Viet Cong - Viet Cong

by Rob Taylor Rating:10 Release Date:2015-01-19

This self-titled release from Canada’s Viet Cong is phenomenally good, so ludicrously superior to their EP Cassette, the scale of change so epochal, that when they sing of the ‘March of Progress’, they must be waxing biographical. Albums emerge periodically which reaffirm our faith in the future of music, the unflinching spirit of youth mixed with courage and talent to produce something very special. This is it. 

Thirty-nine minutes of seditious agitator punk, packing explosive intent but expertly buffering the sharpness of their sound with unexpected and fascinating changes of pace, key and mood. The cross-streams are endlessly gripping. Fierce, melodic, dissonant, harmonious, disharmonious, and fostering an irrepressible energy throughout.

The foreboding rumble of the bass-drum on opener ‘Newspaper Spoons’ performs a choke-hold on the listener. Release is futile. The track employs some loud/soft stereo separation between two distant bass-drums, a call-and-response technique used on other parts of the album.

Discordant guitar plays background while relief is applied by trickling keyboard seemingly lifted from a new-age science fiction movie. Chimes ring out in choral affect (like a carillon), dimming the bass-drum and producing calm where once chaos lurked.  

‘Pointless Experience’ introduces a synth sounding like a low turbine whine, and some guitar strumming just a touch off-key, abrasive, never yielding to convention. ‘March of Progress’ is a two-chord organ dirge, with frayed drumming reducing the sharpness and accentuating the bottom-end, its incessant drums accompanied by keyboard dirge - altogether a darker soundscape germane to Badalamenti and Reznor’s work on Lost Highway. Relief here comes in the form of a harp midway through the track, and an incessant wedding chime pop-loop predicated on hopefulness, I assume.

All utterly compelling. On ‘Bunker Buster’, there’s a segue at 1:52 which is Canadian pop-indie pastiche, and again, this propensity to provide relief against a burgeoning sense of dread. Brilliant. 

‘Silhouettes’ transitions at 3:12 (“There’s no connection left in your head”) into one of the most inspiring punk-rock segments I have ever heard. Anthemic, but not in an embarrassing or disposable way.

'Death' is the kick-back nine-minute improv at the end, bringing together a lot of the album’s ideas in thoroughly captivating style. Viet Cong is the curtain raiser to a new era of experimental post-punk. A commanding debut.

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