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Voodoo Glow Skulls - Break The Spell (Cover Artwork)

Voodoo Glow Skulls

Voodoo Glow Skulls: Break The SpellBreak The Spell (2012)
Smelvis

Reviewer Rating: 2
User Rating:


Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
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Voodoo Glow Skulls are one of the most enduring bands of the third wave ska movement, they have spent time on two of the largest independent labels around and even have found themselves as part of punk rock mythology. Break The Spell is their ninth new LP and their first for the small indie Smelvis .
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Voodoo Glow Skulls are one of the most enduring bands of the third wave ska movement, they have spent time on two of the largest independent labels around and even have found themselves as part of punk rock mythology. Break The Spell is their ninth new LP and their first for the small indie Smelvis Records. Honestly, there isn't much new here if you are already familiar with the band; Break The Spell is a consistent blend of punk, ska, Latin influence and hardcore.

The biggest thing holding back Break The Spell is that the album mix tends to push vocalist Frank Casillas to the forefront. Frank's vocals are competent enough when he is working with a hardcore shout like "Police Knocking On My Door" or the verses on "Creep Tonight" but when melody gets involved things are a little flat. The fast paced "Haunt You" is a great example. It is a poppy number somewhat resembling some of Rancid's mid-'90s output but Casillas' performance is somehow even more ho-hum than Tim Armstrong's. The "na-na na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na" would likely be annoying under anyone's pipes but here it sounds like an annoying child's taunt; I think there is a difference between taunting and haunting but that's just me. On another record these shortcomings might not be as big of an issue but since the production highlights them, they become extremely obvious.

There is something to be said for covering a wide range of lyrical perspectives and themes throughout a record to match musical diversity but a lot of it seems forced on Break the Spell. "Police Knocking On My Door" is an appropriately frantic third wave ska song narrating a fugitive's journey. The problem is that the lyrics retain the same first person perspective with such a literal style that it becomes monotonous and little in the way of sudden mood changes, humor or literary nuance that a good story can use to avoid that. A moment that gets your heart racing like a police chase seems like it would be a tad more confusing and exciting. Perhaps a few more musical twists and turns would aid it but "Police Knocking At My Door" is pretty much locked in the same mode throughout. "Bro Truck" deals with, well, bros. I find it hilarious that fashion elements like generic tattoos and flat-brim hats which get disparaged here are things that seem to typify style quite common at a 21st century ska show. Maybe VGS are trying to intentionally antagonize a portion of their potential fanbase? I think it just comes off as obnoxious. Even when the band takes a more serious approach on "Dead Soldiers," it is comes of as less than serious because while there is still war going on, there isn't any personal perspective or new observations about the effects of war brought up. There doesn't need to be anything contrived or pretentious to make the song feel less stale but as it stands, "Dead Soldiers" sounds like a song that might be relevant six or seven years ago.

Break the Spell is far from Voodoo Glow Skulls' best work but there are some decent moments instrumentally that somewhat make up for the bad stuff. With a different recording Break The Spell would probably fair a lot better. Perhaps the move to a new label provided a different recording budget than an Epitaph or Victory. Either way, the band seems a little out of it and needs more time to flesh out their ideas.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
timahelm (February 13, 2012)

it sounds like review of the band, not review of the album! His vocal been the same for past 20 years and the lyrical content is pretty much the same all the time...

tenwestchaser (February 12, 2012)

I like how the production quality is brought up so early in the review. That's such a huge problem with these guys. Too many of their records have one major production flaw that makes it tough to listen to. Like "Adiccion, Tradicion, Revolucion" having nothing resembling any low end to it or even mid for that matter.

1776 (February 11, 2012)

I was listening to this online -- so take this with a grain of salt -- but this review seems off.

Since Firme, I thought they were getting progressively more bland (their last couple were unlistenable) but "Unlucky Bastard" and a few of the other tracks sound close to vintage. It's not groundbreaking, but the vocals are sharper and the guitar/horn interplay is much improved. I liked the old VGS stuff, so hopefully this is a real return to form and not just my nolstalgia talking.

SilentStorms (February 11, 2012)

Welcome to Dave's "Four or More" Club -> The weekly post where I tell you what you should like, and if you don't like it then you're an idiot. All albums listed get a 4 or more out of 5 stars.

This week's issue is called, "Playin' it Safe".

NOFX - So Long and Thanks for All The Shoes

SilentStorms (February 11, 2012)

This music always made me cringe. Oops, makes me cringe.

telegraphrocks (February 10, 2012)

They set the bar way too high for themselves with "Firme", and haven't come close to it since.

r3vengetherapy (February 10, 2012)

I can't believe this shit still exists in 2012.

eatdogs (February 10, 2012)

i still rock firme once in a great while...

overdefined (February 10, 2012)

Hup hup hup hup hup pick it up hup hup hup hup

EchosMyron (February 10, 2012)

Ska.

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