At this point, probably only about 12% of all musicians anywhere haven’t been involved in a side project with either Shane Embury or Danny Lilker. Or at least, they haven’t yet been involved in one. There’s still time…
Venomous Concept is one of the points at which the two hyper-productive bassists intersect. (The other is Lock Up, which also features Venomous Concept vocalist Kevin Sharp, whom you may remember from Lilker’s other – and most important – venture, the sadly defunct Brutal Truth.) Named in tribute to the great Poison Idea, Venomous Concept is its various members’ homage to classic hardcore punk, at times pushing close to the grindcore in which they more traditionally trade.
As you can likely infer from the title, Kick Me Silly – VC III is the band’s third album, coming now eight years after the last one. In the intervening span of time, John Cooke of Corrupt Moral Altar signed up as second guitarist, but little else has really changed. Kick Me is still predominantly composed of short, furious songs – twenty of them in roughly half an hour, with two of those adding up to a full fifth of that time, the two longest songs in the band’s catalog so far. And, like Retroactive Abortion and Poisoned Apple before it, it’s enjoyable in the moment but unfortunately doesn’t leave all that much of an impression afterward.
Whereas Abortion was just sloppy enough to bolster its vicious bite, Apple was tighter, more controlled, and sonically, it packed more of a wallop. VCIII is closer then to Apple in composition, but more like Retroactive in production – it’s rawer, and yet the band is focused, direct.
Most of Kick Me flies by in a blur of punk chords and furious drumming; so it’s not surprising that the moments that poke farthest forth from the maelstrom are those that separate themselves stylistically. The almost Nathrakh-ian ending of “Potter’s Ground,” or the similarly black-ish “Holiday In Switzerland”… Both explore dissonance in the riffs that distance them from the standard chunky chords found elsewhere. Similarly, the doomy start and blistering end to “Farm Boy” pull the pace down with a memorable shift towards the slower. A few of the more straightforward songs do succeed – the almost-catchy chug of “Forever War,” or the suitably titled “Anthem” – but the remainder tend to blend together into one wall of frenzied noise.
But then again, that’s kind of part of the territory.
By now, if you’ve been following Venomous Concept, you shouldn’t be expecting them to rewrite any rulebooks. They’re a side project in the classic sense, a diversion, a change of pace and then we all move on. If vintage hardcore flicks your switch, filtered through some grind and modern metal influence, then there’s some enjoyment herein, same as with the last two. Just do what the graphic designer clearly did and don’t think too much about it. It’s black and white and simple; kick back and enjoy the rage while you’ve got it.