VHS: Gift of Life
Gift of Life, the first proper full-length by VHS, follows in the footsteps of their previous EPs, with the band self-recording their amalgam of Lost Sounds' trashy discontent, early Big Black's trebly guitar stabs, and Only Theatre of Pain-era Christian Death's black reverberations. These are brash and bitter territories to occupy, but the band sees no other choice for their musical direction, citing the daily grind as the impetus behind their music. The harsh reality of frontman Josh Hageman's day-to-day existence working on the periphery of the medical field played a direct role in the overall theme of the album. Those fatalistic views and medical themes are on full display on “Wheelchair,” where a punk pulse underscores Hageman’s harrowing description of a life lived in chronic pain with drugs serving as the only escape. The album continues on to "Hospital Room," where wiry guitar leads and ominous chords provide the soundtrack to a scene of misery and tragedy within the sanitized walls of Western medicine. Elsewhere, the themes of addiction and exposure take on more universal themes, such as on the culture-gorging lament of "Binge Everything" or the panopticon-paranoia of "Public Act." If you've ever worried that punk has gotten too antiseptic, Gift of Life is here to deliver the grime.