It's been three long years since Eighteen Visions defined themselves as a hardcore band with Vanity — a brutal album packed with driving metalcore. Since then, the Huntington Beach, California, band has traded in its abrasive style for a more straight-ahead rock sound and, after dropping 2004's Obsession, even signed a major-label deal with Epic.
Like so many groups that've made the move from the underground scene to the corporate machine, Eighteen Visions have "evolved," in the words of frontman James Hart. The self-titled LP they'll issue in June should serve as the next step in what's been "the natural progression of the band," the singer said.
"We've kind of been on the more melodic page for the last few years now," Hart said. "For anybody that knows the band and the last couple of records, or just the last record, they're going to get it. It's not going to be a complete 180 or something out of left field, to where people are going to be like, 'Oh, wow — they did this with their music. I can't believe that.' There's some unpredictable stuff still, and we like to keep people guessing with the songs and keep things fresh."
So what will Eighteen Visions' next album, which they're toiling away on in Los Angeles under the guidance of producer Machine (Lamb of God, Rob Zombie), sound like? "Well, picture Stone Temple Pilots with Def Leppard, maybe," Hart explained. "And maybe Marilyn Manson. One song, 'Truth or Consequence,' has an AFI feel to it. But we wrote a song that sounds like it could've been on [Def Leppard's] Hysteria."
Eighteen Visions wrote more than 30 songs for the album and plan to record 13 — 11 will make the LP's final cut and two stragglers will be set aside as potential B-sides or video game or soundtrack contributions. Along with "Truth or Consequence," Hart said the album will feature "Black and Bruised" and "Last Night" (a "classic-rock ballad"). Dissolved relationships and generalized angst and apathy notwithstanding, Hart said the bulk of the album's material goes deeper and was inspired by life's darkest facets.
"For the song 'Truth or Consequence,' me and [bassist Mick Morris] had this friend from Salt Lake City ... he was a good friend of mine ... unfortunately, he ended up in a car accident that paralyzed him pretty much from the neck down," Hart explained. "He also needed a liver transplant. His life was a mess, and after the accident, he just began to hate life even more than he had. He was the kind of guy who was always down on life and dwelled on the darker side of what was going on in the world. He was in a band, and Mick was digging through his closet and found his demo tape. We put it on and it brought back all these memories. This guy wrote about taking his own life, which a lot of people sing about. Usually they don't go through with the act. He did, three years ago. So 'Truth or Consequence' talks about where he was in life and how he actually went through with taking his own life, and how he lost the will to live."
On a more uplifting note, Hart said being on Epic has afforded his band more time in the studio and working with Machine has opened up the group to more experimentation. "We've been writing more drum'n'bass and dirty, synthesized stuff — what you'd hear on a Nine Inch Nails record," he said. "We get bored just having guitar bits and being a straightforward, average guitar-rock band. We will add some synthesized strings and other electronic elements to some of these songs too."
The timing for Eighteen Visions' next vision couldn't be better. With Avenged Sevenfold — who Hart said the band was supposed to tour with in 2006, but had to finish the album instead — dominating the countdown on "TRL" and a possible stint on this summer's Warped Tour on the table, Hart said Eighteen Visions are primed for whatever comes next.
"The album's still heavy, and it's still rock, but its more song-y," he said. "With bands like Avenged Sevenfold opening the door for heavier rock, it's a great time for us to step up to the plate and try to hit a home run with this thing. There's nothing like this out there right now."