While it is possible to speak of both an aggressive and a softer side to this Helsinki-based quintet, the songs themselves are too multidimensional and varied to allow simplistic differentiation. Falling smack in the middle on the "violence scale," "New Toy" is straightforward hard rock in structure and style, with a classic-sounding main riff but a modern feel. Although the heavier songs offer all the attitude anyone could want in terms of lyrics and tone, they aren't overly abrasive or discordant, and gain additional accessibility as well as resonance from their catchy rhythms. Those of the vocal lines are irresistible enough to have the pope chanting the band's most profane lyrics. Driving the music, the drums (which are pure metal) and the punchy bass (which is played by guitarists J. Salò and Mr. Kock rather than current bassist Varjo) create pulsations ranging from loping and head-banging, like those prominent in "Seven Days to Reverse Universe" and "Entertainment," to tightly grooving and head-bobbing, as in "Boy Called Fucker" and "Break the Face." Undoubtedly a factor in the band's perceived resemblance to Slipknot, V for Violence's rhythms seem fresher, as does their overall sound, which, besides being more metal, isn't as over-produced or slick as Slipknot's.
Just as The Cult of V's heaviest songs are accessible for listeners whose tastes don't normally run that way, so also do the predominantly melodic ones hold appeal for fans of more extreme music - always showing the band's "violent" side, always maintaining their own type of relentlessness. Part of this is due to the vocals. Somewhat like a more aggressive, Finnish-accented version of Oomph singer Dero with a touch of Billy Idol, frontman/principal songwriter Jay Tan imbues the album's Babylon Whores-like flowing vocal melodies with an intensity his countrymen's lack. Even when crooning, he sounds sinister and smoldering, which broadens the dimensions of songs like the poppy but hard-edged "The Ghost of Love" and is crucial to the slow-burn approach used in "The Omega Song" and "Scream." Both begin ominously, mixing horror and melancholy, and build toward an explosion of aggressiveness. An exercise in supreme control in each case, this involves flawless pacing in "The Omega Song" and cunning covertness in "Scream," where Jay's undertone and subtly threatening lyrics belie the music's dreamy gentleness in the verses, and foreshadow the shift to an open attack late in the song. That moment has the dramatic impact of a lover in a play or film dropping his romantic facade to reveal the monster beneath - a surprise to his victim but anticipated by the audience. The only truly abrupt element is the persona's announcement "I am Satan; / I worship Satan," which, based on the lyrics up to this point, comes across as a non sequitur (and a seemingly contradictory one at that).
"Scream" has the stature of a centerpiece, the culmination of the first part of the album's superb song-sequencing, which creates a momentum that builds toward this track and peaks in its stirring chorus. Unfortunately - and rather perplexingly - the order for the rest of the songs is far less dynamic. To follow "Scream" and kickstart the next phase, "Break the Face" would have been a far better choice than "The Butcher's Song." The latter could, in fact, be dispensed with altogether, on the basis of its atypically throwaway lyrics alone, which read like Murder Ballads-lite, possessing neither the poetry nor the, well, violence of Nick Cave's homicidal musings. (Elsewhere, Cave is evoked more favorably, his novel And the Ass Saw the Angel being credited as an inspiration for the lyrics of "The Omega Song"). With "The Butcher's Song" eliminated and a different arrangement for the remaining tracks, one that would entail leaving only "V for Violence" in place and granting "Constant of Death" the penultimate position for which it's plainly begging and screaming, the drive established by the first six could have been sustained and the collection-of-songs syndrome avoided.
Even without the most advantageous sequencing throughout, The Cult of V's individual tracks shine. Several sound like hit singles - one, "Constant of Death," having already been released. In signing V for Violence, Osasto-A founder Petja Turunen, a.k.a. MC Raaka Pee of the immensely popular Turmion Kätilöt, shows that he not only knows how to command the allegiance of a diverse audience but can recognize that capability in others. What V for Violence are doing is good for metal, for modern rock, and for anyone interested in music that's subversive in the best possible ways.
|1. The Omega Song|
|2. New Toy|
|3. Seven Days to Reverse Universe|
|4. The Ghost of Love|
|5. Boy Called Fucker|
|7. The Butcher’s Song|
|8. All Insane|
|9. Break the Face|
|10. Constant of Death|
|12. 60° and 6 Feet Deep|
|13. The End|
|14. V for Violence|
|Buy other V For Violence albums|