Viet Cong - Viet Cong (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Viet Cong

Viet Cong (2015)


The 1980’s brought synthesizers to punk rock, while some brought elements of pop music ala Blondie, Berlin, and Talking Heads would create the dawn of New Wave and send many of these bands to the top of the charts; there were other bands who would incorporate dark imagery into punk rock nihilism and bring on the dawn of Gothic Rock. Some of the bands like Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees would find some mainstream success, the success of Gothic Rock was limited primarily to the college radio airwaves for much of the decade. Almost thirty years later, there are some bands keeping this spirit alive among them are the band Viet Cong. Viet Cong is composed of guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen and vocalist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallacepreviously of the band Women who broke up after an onstage fight in 2010 and all hopes of a reunion fell through with the death of guitarist Christopher Reimer in 2012.

Their eponymous debut album, the follow up to their 2013 EP Cassette, opens with the track “Newspaper Spoons.” The sparse, almost industrial drumming, that immediately brings to mind the Killing Joke song “Wardance.” The drums continue for almost a minute before the guitar kicks in, and while the melody is delicate and sparse, it is also brutal in how dark it is. Perhaps, it’s the gray Midwestern winters of Ohio but this album feels like it was written to be a soundtrack for my life for the next month and a half.

Throughout the album the sparse instrumentation and dark lyrics touching on death, give you the sense this album was very much written with their former band mate, Christopher Reimer, weighing heavily on their minds. Lyrically, this seems no more apparent than on the track “Continental Shelf” where Matt Flegel laments, “if we’re lucky we’ll get old and die.” The closing track “Death” is an 11-minute opus of squalling guitar distortion and the powerful emotive drumming that dominate the sound throughout the album.

Having read a few stories about this band live, some of which involve guitarist, Daniel Christiansen, throwing his guitar down and sitting on it for the simple reason of maximizing guitar feedback … these guys are definitely a band to check out live. As for this album, it is a brutal emotive ride, one that I took several times while writing this review. And while it’s certainly not for every punk rock fan that visits this site, if you’re looking for nihilism and guitar feedback Viet Cong is a band you should look into.