Prior to this album, the only thing I’d ever heard by New Year’s Day was their scorching cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” which is easily my favorite Lady Gaga cover to date. Alas, I’m a bit late to the party here, as the band, which hails from Chino Hills, California, has actually been around since 2005. To that end, they first gained popularity by posting songs on My Space and even appeared on the official compilation MySpace Records Volume 1. Since then, they’ve released a few things on a few different record labels and changed guitarists more often than Spinal Tap changes drummers. But, hey, they’re apparently no worse for wear as their new album Victim To Villain is a non-stop, high octane metal joyride.
The album kicks off with “Do Your Worst,” which begins with a bit of ominous-sounding piano and a flurry of electro-beats before an onslaught of massive drums and crunchy, raw guitars take over. The power chords grab and shake you, but frontwoman Ashley Costello’s impassioned vocals are even more stimulating and continue to be throughout the album. “I’m a good regret / Proud to be such a mess / I wear it on me like a scarlet letter,” she sings during the next track, “I’m No Good,” which especially reminds this listener of L.A. Guns’ classic “Big House” at the beginning. The electro-beats occasionally return here, ensuring that you realize there’s a distinct pop element to the band regardless of how brutal and menacing the guitar riffs and rhythm can be. That’s not a bad thing though. Quite the contrary. Throughout this immaculately-produced album, the band manages to sound like a solid metal unit while hooking you like an exquisite power pop band. To that end, it’s tempting to describe them as a power pop version of Evanescence or Flyleaf, but I think they’re more like a metal version of Paramore, Ashley’s vocals especially evoking those of Haley Williams. And I think that’s a very good thing. After all, Haley is one of those rare women who can sound like a pop princess and a rock goddess all at once.
Song after song, Victim To Villain delivers one infectious hook after another — they’re as catchy as poison ivy and chicken pox combined. Just listen to “Bloody Mary” once and you’ll have it stuck in your head for days. “Bloody mary, bloody mary, bloody mary” — it’s downright hypnotic. From Ashley’s slick, sugar and cyanide vocals to the torrid guitar solo to the contagious gang vocals during the chorus, everything about the song is perfect. The same can be said about most of the songs here. This is especially true about “Death of the Party,” a song that blends throbbing, synthesized bass with grinding metal riffs and fierce additional lead vocals by one of the guys.
Another highlight is “Angel Eyes,” which features vocalist Chris Motionless from Motionless In White. His vocals are as dark and menacing as Ashley’s are auspicious and pretty, complimenting her perfectly.
I should also mention how fast the band pumps out their songs. We’re talking about a rapid-fire unit that constantly fires on all cylinders. Their longest song here is 3:56 and a few of them are actually even under three minutes, the aforementioned “Angel Eyes” clocking in at just 2:57. And the final song I feel compelled to mention, a lovely Emilie Autumn-esque ballad called “Tombstone,” is only 1:45, although it’s the one song on the album that isn’t fast and furious. I do wish it was longer though. As it is, it kind of feels like half a song. Even if they would’ve just repeated the exact same lyrics one more time I think it would have been so much better. That’s a small complaint, though, and the only complaint at all that I can make about this marvelous, must-hear album.