With the tiny Metal scene in South Africa being the only beacon of light in an otherwise dark (pun intended) continent one cannot realistically expect the region to ooze quality bands on a regular basis, but now and then something great happens. In this case that ‘something’ is VOD’s (VOICE OF DESTRUCTION) “Bloedrivier” (Afrikaans for Blood River), an album that together with MALIGNANT SAVIOR’s “Hymns To A God Forgotten” and ODYSSEY’s self-titled masterpiece (also reviewed on this site) is one of the continent few musical ‘must haves’.
VOD formed in the late 80s and originally played material more in the Hardcore Punk/Crossover vein but by the 90s due in no small part to a change in vocalists and heavy touring with more abrasive bands their sound was well and truly ‘metalized’, the culmination of which was 1996’s landmark “Bloedrivier”. To this day this album has not grown old and it still possesses an atmosphere quite unlike anything else out there. So in a way it is a timeless release and a true underground gem. With a sound that combined the best elements of “Gothic”-era PARADISE LOST, ICED EARTH and the cult US Prog-Thrash act ANACRUSIS, they poured their hearts into this (their only full-length release), and imbued it with a lot of personal feeling and grit. The self-titled instrumental opener is one of the highlights here – after a slow build-up and epic guitar reverb it soon builds into an anthemic monster that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Doom” then really kicks the album into high gear with its doomy riffs, subtle time changes and mournful yet passionate vocal lines. This song just has an emotional resonance that is undeniable and the best part of it is that is doesn’t come off as pretentious in the least bit. From hereon the album alternates between slow (at times almost ballad-like; “Vir Zoé”) numbers and the more upbeat melodic tracks. “Goodbye” is the best example of the latter category and I can guarantee you that once those riffs kick in you will be bouncing off the walls like a lunatic. “J.M.S.P.” (Jou Ma Se Poes… let’s just say it’s the place from which we’ve all drop at some point, except if C-sections come into play) is the album’s wildcard – a frantic Thrash/Hardcore song with hilarious lyrics and a raw vibe. If you dig bands like CARNIVORE then you will love this short burst of noise...
I’m not even going to dissect this album further. Suffice to say it’s a classic and a very unique release. It won the band much acclaim and they even secured a record deal with Morbid Records and played many overseas dates. Not bad going for a bunch of Safricans!
Satan and his 666 angels of doom must have heard my pleas because this album has recently been re-released as a‘10th Anniversary Edition’ which contains a bonus track (“Needledive”, and accompanying video), all the band’s previous demos, new artwork/liner notes and video footage from the 96/97 European tour. Excellent stuff, and testament to this album’s significance.
Highly recommended. You know what to do.
(Online March 26, 2007)