Certain albums stay with you, even though you haven’t listened to them in years. One of those records for me is 2000’s “Violence” from Nothingface. For a few years they were easily one of my favorite bands, and while I haven’t delved greatly into past albums lately, I still regard this band as having not only a distinct sound, but also a profound effect on my life. Today’s addition to the Albums of My Life Series, Nothingface’s “Violence.”
Overall, this band never got the recognition my friends and I thought they deserved, and unfortunately now it’s too late. The album opens with a powerful drum entrance, courtesy of Chris Houck, but pretty soon Matt Holt’s signature throaty roar is presenting itself. The music is often described as “alternative metal,” but honestly I never considered it that. It’s a bit more glossy than other metal of the time, but I still think it’s metal. “Make Your own Bones,” which opens the record, is a great starting place, not only because it’s an immediate type of a track, but because Holt demonstrates his ability to scream and sing. This was a little bit before Killswitch Engage came on the scene with a similar style of vocals, but like I said earlier, Nothingface never got the credit they deserved.
Track two, “Bleeder,” is probably their best known track, even if it’s not their best overall song. The music presented on “Violence” is able to be clear and concise while also hitting the finer points you want from this genre. Drummer Hauck, along with Tom Maxwell on guitar and Bill Gaal on bass really meld a heavier sound with the modern rock feeling of the era, but the star quality of the band is time and time again Matt Holt’s voice. He’s able to bring one of the throatiest screams around, while also singing deeply and gorgeous at other times. His presentation comes through even more in regards to his choice of lyrics. For the time there really wasn’t anyone else putting words together like him, and it makes the band more interesting than the run of the mil “I Hate my parents” style of writing and lyricism of the genre at the time.
During my time as a huge NF fan, I was fortunate enough not only to see them live, but also get to hang out with the band. It happened in 2001, when they opened a Disturbed and Mudvayne show here in New Orleans. No One knew who the hell they were, but my buddy and I were there hours earlier trying to meet the band. Anyway, out of nowhere Matt Holt comes out, and we both freaked out. Regardless, he didn’t seem to mind and was actually really happy about seeing fans who were there almost entirely for his band. After getting in an argument with Venue security about who we were, He brought us on the bus, and we got to spend probably an hour with him, talking music and hanging out. It was kind of incredible, and even a few years later when I again met him, he remembered it, which to me meant a lot.
Just like there was something about his genuine approach to meeting fans, the honesty reaches out in the bands music. Maybe it’s his voice, but everything they write and record seems from a real tangible place, and when making music, that help’s an obscene amount.
One of my favorite songs on the album finds us at number five. “Can’t Wait for Violence” has this riveting guitar part that burns and hisses through the song, but the drums also play a noteworthy role. When Holt bellows “I Can’t Wait for Violence,” you feel the urgency, especially since the powering guitar part swells right under the vocals to create a really cohesive element in the song.
One of the most important parts of a record is the middle section, mostly because it either loses focus, or keeps the energy level up. “Violence” succeeds in doing the latter, and song after song really drive the importance of the record home. “Dead Like Me” is an incredible song that still resonates, and would probably be a hit on radio even today, while “Blue Skin” may or not be a drug induced song about the green stuff(I never got actual confirmation, but the lyrics seem to fit the theory). “Skin” especially opens with a very cool but ominous bell effect that quickly escalates into more potent musical energy.
“Hidden Hands,” track nine, is the song that features Holt singing the opening, and it’s honestly unfortunate that he doesn’t sing more, especially on this track.. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are great all around, but he does both so well that I wish there was a bit more singing(On the next record he would end of challenging himself more in the singing department, and it pays off)
The bass and drums here are where it’s really at though, and the musical arrangements really amp up the song as a whole. At the time of release this album was a moderate hit, and although the band didn’t get the dues and support they had hoped for, the record holds us very easily after nearly fifteen years living in this world.
“Everlasting Godstopper,” the second to last song on the record, really starts to bring everything back around, and it’s one of the most intense and angry tracks on the album. Holt brings the tension to the situation by imploring “I Want it all Back,” and in this moment you understand how important it is. However, the last piece on the record, “Piss and Vinegar,” lives up to the name that was bestowed upon it. The quick and to the point guitar part at the early stages really surprises you, in a good way, and the vocals arrive to destroy the record one more time. The drumming here is also great, and has that ability to be present and in the forefront one second while seemingly disappearing the next second. This is what’s called good drumming. You don’t always have to know it’s there, just as long as it helps the song to reach it’s full potential.
This album really still is excellent, and listening to it after all these years reminds me of all the happiness it brought me, and although this band doesn’t exist anymore, I’m unlikely to ever forget them. Thanks for reading, see you Friday!
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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