As a populace, Australia has known Violent Soho have been building towards stardom for the better part of this decade. While their first and sophomore records (We Don’t Belong Here and Violent Soho) received little praise and only minor success, 2013’s Hungry Ghost was the punch-in-the-face and kick-in-the-teeth that rightly put Violent Soho on the top of the Australian Stoner-Alternative Rock pedestal.
Hungry Ghost, with its sweary yells and ingenuity, was the platform that Violent Soho needed to get to the top. While they’ve enjoyed being at that peak whilst touring to countless sell out crowds and creating ridiculous scenes at festivals, their new album WACO seemingly continues off where Hungry Ghost finished, but doesn’t break down the walls its predecessor did.
Opening track “How To Taste” has the makings of being a great stadium rock track to open a set with. It’s an assault of your senses from the get-go, as front man Luke Boerdam’s distinctive vocals help listeners re-assimilate to the sounds of the band.
“Blanket” is a killer follow up to “How To Taste”, with the chorus seemingly WACO’s response to Hungry Ghost’s “Covered In Chrome”. This is the best song on the album, and one that probably won’t get as much praise and acclaim as it should. Single “Viceroy” tones it down just a little bit through out the opening verse, before going boonta during the chorus. The bass line will be locked in your head for ages; which really isn’t all that bad.
“Sentimental” cruises along as the band goes on a slightly more melodic path, while lead single “Like Soda” is almost worthy of being the National Anthem. It truly is that good. It isn’t Trade problems that the country is going to have a double dissolution over; it’s whether or not “Like Soda” is going to be the next national anthem. Vote for it guys, you won’t regret it, especially in an Olympic year.
Unfortunately, after opening with five super tunes, WACO has already peaked. Not to say the rest of WACO isn’t a good listen, it just doesn’t take risks and rests on the laurels of Hungry Ghost. It’s like the band lost the hunger to continue to create new frontiers and then smash them to pieces.
I can’t help but feel that I’ve heard “Evergreen” somewhere before, possibly a little reminiscent of “Everlong” era Foo Fighters. If you’re to take anything out of the closing tracks, it’s that album closer “Low” does show a slightly tender side to a band known for being an absolute riot on stage, while also creating riots within their moshes.
WACO is by no means a bad album, in fact it’s far from it. I just think the band got a little cosy sitting on the perch they created on the back of Hungry Ghost. If any other band were to release this as a debut album or break out release, critics and fans alike would probably froth on it. So while I may be a little harsh in my analysis of the album, I think it’s more or less just me expecting more from a band that I know can create some real bangers.
Review Score: 7.4 out of 10.
WACO is out now.