VVOVNDS- Descending Flesh

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, November 1, 2015

Belgian hardcore/punk band VVOVNDS (pronounced wounds) has been around for a few years, releasing a series of shorter format releases including a split with Amenra in 2014. This year they’ve put out their debut full length Descending Flesh via Hypertension Records, which contains eleven tracks of aggressive and heavy hitting material that spans just about every style within the punk realm imaginable. Despite jumping around and touching upon a whole slew of different elements in a short span of time, VVOVNDS always keeps their finger on the trigger and doesn’t let the intensity waver for a second which gives this record a harsher edge with substance to back it up.

The majority of the songs on Descending Flesh fly by in about a minute and a half to two minutes, hardly giving listeners a chance to catch their breath before the next one kicks in. In this shorter span of time VVOVNDS is able to cram in a slew of different ideas that head all over the hardcore/punk spectrum. One song might go for an abrasive groove laden lead with plenty of twists and turns, while others have the type of guitar flare ups and sudden tempo shifts that are reminiscent of Converge. On two of the eleven tracks the instrumentals opt to slow things down significantly and stretch out their song lengths to three and a half to four minutes, and during these they create a dark and dreary atmosphere with melodic leads that hang over the recording with a haunting presence. Though the slower, sludgier moments give listeners a brief respite from the attack on the rest of Descending Flesh, they still manage to have just as much of an impact and really get under your skin. But what matters the most is that the material on this record feels substantial, and although VVOVNDS hops around a lot and can’t be fully pinned down into one specific hardcore or punk sound there is always a riff of some kind that listeners can really latch on to and that will keep them coming back for more.

Vocalist Jenci Vervaeke maintains an extremely aggressive and distorted scream for the entire record, and his pitch is often so abrasive and jagged that it cuts through the instrumentals like a dirty razor and stands out as one of the most prominent element of VVOVNDS’ attack. There’s also just a little bit of echo employed so that even as Vervaeke’s screams start to fade out they’re still hovering over the instrumentation and are there until the very last possible second. Songs like “A La Lanterne” throw in some backup vocals in the form of gruffer screams that trade off with the higher ones, giving just a little bit more versatility to the performance during key moments on Descending Flesh. But aside from these occasional bursts of lower ranges, the high screams dominate the recording and work on cutting your eardrums into pieces by the time the last song has finished playing.

Descending Flesh is a strong statement from VVOVNDS, as it’s the type of record that’s unrelenting from beginning to end but still packs in a lot of variation and riffing that’s capable of making the songs distinguishable from each other. There’s a little bit of something from just about every hardcore and punk variant you can think of crammed into these twenty one minutes, with a healthy dose of dark and sludgy instrumentation added in for good measure. It’s one thing to hit the listener as hard as possible, but it’s another to have the songwriting ability to back it up and give them reason to come back and get destroyed all over again and that’s exactly what these guys have accomplished with this release.

http://www.hypertensionrecords.com

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