3 out of 5
Produced by: Machine
Seemingly ruinous for the band at the time – a major label hop and rounding out of their sound that triggered fans’ rejection and a 10-year next-release hiatus – time has rendered VoD’s somewhat notorious From Bliss to Devastation into, natch, not a bad album at all. From a progress perspective, this is very much in line with Cave In’s path: landmark albums; an influential splash; leading to a big ol’ release that causes a knee-jerk retching response – Less screaming! Multi-tracked production! – when the sound is truthfully a extension, and not a distillation, of what had come before. In fact, Bliss is even more risk-taking than Cave In’s Antennae in terms of dodging a strictly radio-friendly sound, although we’re also dealing with a difference in labels – Antenna’s RCA versus Bliss’ TVT – the latter of which had its share of industrial acts already, making yelly-ness and heavy guitars a-okay. However, Cave In’s release ended up being a pretty good outlet for lead Stephen Brodsky’s fluffy proem lyrics, matched to arena-sized riffs; with VoD, on the other hand, Tim Williams’ more emotionally raw thoughts hit their mark when amped up behind throaty exhalations and pummeling drums and guitars; From Bliss to Devastation definitely impresses with its layers, but the inherent passion in the group’s previous releases does get taken down a notch when they step back from the thrash threshold to work some studio nuance.
That’s From Bliss to Devastation’s overall flow: metal screeches that are right in line with VoD classics that take surprising turns toward bluesier, sludgier riffs and some well-synced production finaglin’. But when you’re about ready to offer approval of this newly blended sound, the track goes into a refrain or bridge that carries on for a bit too long. The appreciation wears out, and you’re left with something closer to a generic metal rock track. That’s not always the case – and again, a fair amount of the album is actually pretty close to what VoD was doing before and would do after – but it happens often enough on the disc to rate as its general m.o.