How does one start a proper analysis of Attila anymore? They’ve become so irrelevant and so much of a joke that it mightn’t seem worth it, but they’re as deserving of the proper treatment as any other band, even if theirs might be significantly more brief. And that’s because there’s really nothing left to say about them; they make mindless, low-bar deathcore specifically designed to appeal to kids who still think that swearing is cool and edgy, while producing one of the most odious, loathsome frontmen in the business with Chris Fronzak in the process. And yet, they’re not even worth the effort to hate; 2016’s Chaos might’ve been a bad album, but it was so ludicrously inoffensive for a band who thrive on the exact opposite of that concept that it left the distinct question of how much mileage Attila really have left hanging. It can certainly be argued that they’ve been drained of that for years now, but given that Villain sees them attempting to make strides as an unsigned act this time around, there’s clearly belief from the camp that they’ve got more to offer instead of following any reasonable instincts and just calling it quits.
To their absolute credit though, Villain is actually quite the interesting case thanks to the wild shifts in direction that it occasionally takes that are completely uncharacteristic of what this band have built their entire brand on. That’s not conducive with being good though, and most of the time, this is Attila at their most base and predictable, trafficking in the tired posturing and overdone clichés you’d expect from a band nine albums deep whose primary lyrical well is empty chest-pounding and laughable density. If anything, it’s probably even worse than Chaos was; where that album at least had moments of flair that stood out, that’s all greatly reduced here, and apart from the aforementioned baffling tonal and lyrical shifts, Villain is Attila at their most uninspired and ungratifying.
And thus, it’s probably worth addressing those lyrics first, given that that’s where the primary meat of any thematic conceit lies here, especially considering that Fronz is actually trying to forge some sort of introspection this late in the game. Opener Perdition already sets the album up on a strange mood with a line like “I’ve destroyed every single thing I touch”, but on Subhuman and Manipulate where he addresses how much his inner struggles have affected his reckless behaviour, it’s an interesting standpoint to take, especially at this point. And it’s admirable that he’s effectively trying to rectify for what he’s done in the past, except for two major issues – a) they’re written almost exclusively with cheap metalcore clichés that gut any possible impact they could have, and b) when the vast majority of the album is the same vapidity that Attila have been peddling for way too long at this point, there’s no point in these moments even being here. And make no mistake, this is exactly that same, from the one-dimensional party scene of Blackout, to the flimsy attempts at puerile shock value on New Addiction and Still About It, to, of course, taking pot shots at another coterie of nebulous haters on It Is What It Is. It was never fun or clever to begin with, but nine albums in where the same topics are being recycled over and over, it’s hard to see how anyone can get even remote satisfaction from creating anything like this.
And what is there to really say about the execution? As ever, it’s comprised of the same meat-headed deathcore chug-fests peppered with guitar solos that are far too good to be wasted on an Attila album, but are never even given the chance to stick around with how they feel slapped onto the mix with no buildup or natural context around them. Being impossibly dull is basically a given, but there’s nothing even slightly enjoyable about instrumental passages that could easily be pre-set breakdowns and nothing more, and that all slips into outright contempt whenever Fronz decides to open his mouth. At best, he can deliver a growl that’s totally anonymous, but whenever he tries to sing or rap with that sneering, slimy tone that becomes more and more insufferable with every word spewed out, it’s clear that this band truly can do nothing well.
For the big game that they talk, Villain simply comes across as yet another boring, vacuous slice of nothing from a band who’ve made that their norm at this point. Nothing about this is as edgy or offensive as they clearly want it to be, and really only serves to dilute an idea that’s basically the most watery and nondescript it can be. The only reason this exists is to plug in a gap where an album release should be; after all, nothing about Villain suggests it was created out of passion or any significant drive, nor to appeal to anyone outside of an extremely immediate fanbase who are either too young or too stupid to know any better. At the end of the day though, it’s as forgettable as albums come, and the solace that comes from the fact that this is one album closer to Attila calling it a day for good makes it worth enduring.
For fans of: Emmure, Chelsea Grin, We Butter The Bread With Butter
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Villain’ by Attila is out now.