After a spate of singles since November 2017, Atlanta Georgian Party Deathcore quartet Attila have finally released their 7th studio album “Villain” and their first with new drummer Bryan McClure. The first surprise is perhaps the track list, with only 10 songs making the grade. As the band have left SharpTone Records to go independent (well, frontman Chris Fronzak owns Stay Sick Recordings so all they need is right there), that could well be the reason for “Three 6”, “Pizza” and the Emmure baiting “Callout 2” not making the cut. Interestingly the other two pre-released singles “Blackout” and “Still About It” do appear.
The sound of a ticking clock ushers in opening track “Perdition” with some satisfyingly heavy riffage from guitarist Chris Linck along with some of the most brutal vocals and personal lyrics that Chris Fronzak has delivered in a while, it’s a surprise of a 1 minute 44 second bludgeoning that was the last thing you’d have expected given the bands recent material. Title track “Villain” continues the militant drum work from Bryan McClure with some mixed vocals as Chris Fronzak rap-screams a party anthem about alcohol and overdoses. Linck drops an epic face melting solo and the band are playing material that wouldn’t sound out of place in their “Outlawed” era. Heavier, groovier and more aggressive that anything on the “Chaos” album. “Blackout” then spins up with a knock at the door, some buried electronics and pause break riffage as the party turns into a fight club. Kalan Blehm delivers some pummelling bass lines and the album is off to a fantastic start, a real return to form.
“New Addiction” has a ripping Metalcore solo and tones down the guitars just a little bit with a cut that has more groove but still bites with a number of heavier vocal pops in that classic Fronzak “hopped up” style. A song about meeting a girl and her becoming a new addition? Why not? It’s definitely not a long. “Still About It” was the second pre-released single and has a rap style intro with some programmed drum work before building into a profanity laiden lyric about getting into bed. A post chorus gang chant with a porno sample loop and you’ve got it. It’s a fine piece of heavy metal musically with some classic stylings. “Toxic” squeals with the riffage and the “Bra-ah-ha” from Fronzak could well be the bands Disturbed-ism going forward. It’s a dark and atmospheric tune is comparison to the fun of the previous one and brings back the personal lyrics of the opening track.
Someone has crossed Chris Fronzak and the lyrics of “It Is What It Is” point the finger at someone who has bitten the hand that feeds and gets some vocal venom. Unlike “Callout” or it’s sequel, it isn’t a direct attack and doesn’t name and shame, instead plays with the subtleties with an obvious crowd pleasing “bag your shit” gang chant opportunity for the live show. “Subhuman” is a sort of Nu-Metal anthem attempt that features some “Chaos” era clean vocal singing that prove Fronzak has that in his locker but it’s the guitars which shine. Some incredible lead work makes the track the inclusion of some icy synths in the final minute is a surprise but works really well. “Manipulate” takes things up a notch with some tight Metalcore riffage that drops off to bass and drum runs with spoken word raps before building into some heavier resonance. There a pair of guitar layers with a haunting vibe coming in at the end. “Bad Habits” brings things back to “Outlawed” territory at the start before it builds into a Nu-Metalcore inspired “Whoa” section and introspective lyrics that we’ve perhaps not seen in the past.
As an album, “Villain” is a career spanning sound effort that takes all the elements from each previous albums sound. It’s a far heavier album for the most part than the bands previous 2016 effort “Chaos” and it’s a return to the core sound that the fans wanted to hear. There is still plenty of experimental work but there is a far tighter reign on that than previously and that makes the album as a whole work better. Would it benefit from having “Three 6” and “Pizza” on it? Of course it would. Both are banging tunes but there is an understandable decision to stick with the newer material rather than give fans a lot of tracks they’ve already heard. [7.5/10]