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Vicious Cycle - Pale Blue Dot (Cover Artwork)

Vicious Cycle

Vicious Cycle: Pale Blue DotPale Blue Dot (2009)
Deranged Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Vicious Cycle's Pale Blue Dot provides big names and promises big things. Alexisonfire's George Petit and Fucked Up's Damian Abraham ("Pink Eyes") do guest spots, and the record was recorded with FU / Career Suicide figurehead Jonah Falco. Ontario hardcore torchbearers Deranged Records affixes their.
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Vicious Cycle's Pale Blue Dot provides big names and promises big things. Alexisonfire's George Petit and Fucked Up's Damian Abraham ("Pink Eyes") do guest spots, and the record was recorded with FU / Career Suicide figurehead Jonah Falco. Ontario hardcore torchbearers Deranged Records affixes their name on the back of the case and boasts that the album propels `80s-style hardcore into progressively new and exciting territory.

The reality is that the 28-minute Pale Blue Dot is essentially a more economical Fucked Up, indeed blending `80s hardcore fury and production with proto-punk swagger and a few fuzzy flourishes for good measure. The Shape of Punk to Come this isn't, but the backside of My War it ain't either.

Frontman Nico Taus seems like a small figure, so his gruff, supercharged Stooges bark might be a little jarring at first (if you see them live without prior knowledge, anyway), but it fits well with the quasi-lo-fi yet bulky, reverb-tinged propulsions of the record. He sounds plain mean in "Black Dot" at one point, almost sounding he's gonna let off a John Joseph "YOWW!!", but the guitars' sudden change in melody to something more upbeat and hopeful makes for a subtly dynamic ending. Speaking of husky voices, though, Abraham assuredly steals the show in "Blur," while Petit's more hoarse screech provides a suitable layer to the chorus of "In Tranquility," whose abundance of hooks reveals a fine songwriting crutch for Vicious Cycle to have.

The most outright experimental VC become is the interlude "Death," a mix of guitar yawns and vintage fuck-withs (a similar treatment given to "Rebirth"), and "For Carl," a probable post-punk nod in a minimal setup with a slow, stop-and-go guitar sway and Taus's Ian Curtis echo rather indistinguishable. But the second half follows "Death," kicking off with the mildly muffled "Vertigo" and its charred, chugging chords and distressed howls; the title track follows "For Carl," busting through with a sudden higher-pitched fire in Taus's voice and a bustling midtempo beat.

As one can see, there's a lot of stylistic clashing and ambitious attempts that make Pale Blue Dot a success, though perhaps only to about three-fourths of its potential or so. Still, this is indeed one of the better hardcore albums to surface this year (top 5?) and one of the more challenging interpretations of the style's traditional backbone in recent times. If Vicious Cycle can explore this further with greater focus and improved songwriting, the aforementioned "shape" could indeed take the form of a pale blue dot.

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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.
Douglas_is_rad (August 30, 2009)

I might be alone in thinking that this is one of the best releases this year. I love this album up and down. 'Death' fucking rules.

slowstupidhungry (August 13, 2009)

"Maybe it's a generational thing. If I'm reaching for a Black Flag song it's probably going to be "Rise Above" and not six minutes of sludge."

Come on. I think you just need to smoke weed to get it. Really, Black Flag's metal songs are brutal as shit. Listen to "Nothing Left Inside." "Damaged" as a whole is overrated. For that style of music, I think their second vocalist was their best. On that record, Rollins just sounds like a high school kid with a sore throat. By "Nothing Left Inside," he was just shredding his vocal cords.

LawnDay (August 13, 2009)

Haha, no, I just literally didn't quite understand what you were saying. I re-read it a few times and now I get it. Anyway, yeah though, agree to disagree.

inagreendase (August 13, 2009)

I meant exactly what I said. Maybe it's a generational thing. If I'm reaching for a Black Flag song it's probably going to be "Rise Above" and not six minutes of sludge.

slowstupidhungry (August 13, 2009)

I didn't mean to make it sound like I hated Refused... but c'mon... "My War" is one of the most influential albums of all time. "Shape of Punk" is just like if Born Against dressed like NoU.

LawnDay (August 12, 2009)

"side 2 of My War rapes anything the Refused ever did......just to clear that up.....but I am curious to hear this for sure."

Yup. I'm also not completely sure what you mean there Brian.
Record sounds cool though, I'll give it a listen.

Piata (August 12, 2009)

It's really annoying how previewing your comment doesn't keep your album score.

Piata (August 12, 2009)

I'm amazed anything this good can come out of Sudbury. Hopefully they keep it up because this is a solid start.

slowstupidhungry (August 11, 2009)

"The backside of My War this isn't, but it ain't Refused either."

Fixt

sexualsunshine (August 11, 2009)

Listening to the stream of this... yeah it's pretty sick. Hear the FU influence and damn they do like The Stooges a lot... only they don't have an Iggy.

brandonsideleau (August 11, 2009)

side 2 of My War rapes anything the Refused ever did......just to clear that up.....but I am curious to hear this for sure.

R3vengeTherapy (August 11, 2009)

I've been listening to this for a couple months, and while I agree it sounds a lot like Fucked Up, it still has some great things happening on its own. This is my favorite hardcore record of the year so far, and I have a hard time thinking anything will beat it.

SloaneDaley (August 11, 2009)

Deranged is actually based in BC it has just put out a number of Ontario bands over the years.

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