23 Sep 2018

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Villainy - Mode. Set. Clear. Album Review

29 Dec 2012 // A review by River Tucker

The first thing to strike you about Villainy’s debut album Mode Set Clear is the excellent surrealistic graphics designed by legendary designer Storm Thorgerson. Echoing some other great works by the renowned artist such as Muse’s Absolution, Megadeth’s Rude Awakening and Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, the digipac is so good it’s worth framing and mounting to the wall. 

But it’s not until you put the fantastically designed CD in your stereo that the real fun begins. With perfect production and faultless performances, this album is a must have for your collection. 

Multi-instrumentalist Neill Fraser’s vocal delivery is a powerful yet effeminate mix that transcends many styles. With hints of Shihad’s John Toogood and Brian Molko from Placebo, Fraser’s vocal scope and flawless inflection gives Villainy an edge over most other bands. Tom Watts on lead guitar also sets the mood nicely with clever stabs and great effect changes, while the engine room of James Dylan on bass and Dave Johnston on drums is more cohesive than super glue. These guys really know how to rock.

Alligator Skin kicks things off with some up-tempo rock & roll that presses all the right buttons. The timing turn around within the verse is particularly effective. The rock anthem Gather Yourselves brings it back down a notch with some solid 4/4 driven goodness. The infinitely expressive title track Mode Set Clear effortlessly moves from gentle persuasion to explosive power, displaying the bands full gamut of styles all within one song.

Playing it safe Another Time has enough originality to ensure the commercial orientation doesn’t become overbearing. The Answer then picks things up again with a stonking bass line that nicely matches Johnston’s impeccable drumming. His monumental style changes from driving toms, blistering sixteenths to straight out rock with precise accents making this the stand out track. Then Paradise Lost with its clever guitar counterpoints and vocal angst is a timely interlude to cool things off a bit.

Heating it right back up again is Money Mouth with its subtle guitar solo and lovely crescendo towards the end. More Than You Can Do is a beautiful ballad tinged with sadness that’s sure to send shivers down your spine. Monday Night Fright Night has some wonderful backing vocal tracks that add depth and subtlety to the mix. Ammunition is another four on the floor rock song that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser with well placed rests and buildups making it another standout track.

The passionate outro Deliver Me somewhat resolves the lyrical angst throughout the rest of the album. It’s a spacious and heartfelt ballad that’s the perfect end to a perfect album.

Mode Set Clear is my pick for 2012 rock album of the year and one you should definitely check out today. 4/5

Mode. Set. Clear.
View Track Listing

About Villainy

vill·uh·nee /ˈvilənç/
Noun: 1. The actions or conduct of a villain; outrageous wickedness.
2. Maniacal rock band from Auckland, New Zealand.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Villainy


Dead Sight
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Mode. Set. Clear.
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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