Resurrected from the dead after a 5-year hiatus, cult Ohio horror-punks The Vladimirs are set to release their 8th album The Late Hours, in an original style which hearkens back to Danzig-era Misfits, with some metal creeping in on the side and a curveball ending. The band have old-school credentials, having kicked off during the second horror-punk wave back in the mid-90s, but it still sounds just as fresh 20 years on.
Most of The Late Hours fits in with the darker side of punk, kicking off with “Last Song For The Lost”, showcasing Marquis Thomas’ Elvis-like crooning and almost werewolf-like throaty screams. This then progresses through the fun-loving “Zombie Eyed Youth”, the gothic “Quiet Room” and a more aggressive “You’re Not Who You Think You Are”. The guitars, handled by Thomas and Day, range from menacing Misfits-like punk chords to some thrash-inspired technical solos, which are great headbangers. New bassist Crank has his own moments in the rousing “City Of The Living Dead”, and Ash Thomas provides some interesting drumming, from the faster traditional approach in “Zombie Eyed Youth” to more unconventional patterns in “Blind Love” and “Quiet Room”. This is wrapped together in a surprisingly clean production, which only suffers slightly with the guitar tone of a couple of solos in the title track.
Lyrics appear to be a fairly major part of The Vladimirs’ style, from the storytelling of “Quiet Room” to the catchy yet depressing “Synthetic happiness/I’ve got a pill for every mood I’m in”. There’s also an element of humor, brilliantly captured in the Repo!-like “New Flesh”: “Complaints of loss of spirit are unfounded, left best ignored”, and a more mature feel in “Missing Time”. There are weaker moments like the emo-tinged “Blind Love”, but in general the lyric-writing is strong.
16 years have clearly taught this band that variety is the spice of life, given the multiple genres mixed into this album, and this variety has culminated in possibly the strangest album finale I have ever heard. The title track is a 15-minute epic which can be closest described as a lighter My Dying Bride reanimating Elvis and covering Metallica’s “Orion”, also working in a church organ and atmospheric synths.
If you can get your head around such a neurotic mixture of genres within a punk album, then The Late Hours is a rewarding listen and a fresh breath of air in the ‘undead’ genre. Misfits and Samhain lovers would do well to check this out, along with anyone who has a taste for the more gothic punk style. The Vladimirs are back with a bang, and prove that punk, or at least horror-punk, is not dead.
1. The Last Song For The Lost
2. Zombie Eyed Youth
3. Quiet Room
4. City Of The Living Dead
5. Blind Love
6. Synthetic Happiness
7. You’re Not Who You Think You Are
8. New Flesh
9. Where To Run?
11. Missing Time
12. The Late Hours
Marquis Thomas – Vocals / Guitar
Ash Thomas – Drums / Vocals
Crank – Bass / Vocals
Brian Day – Guitar / Vocals