PICK OF THE WEEK: VHS rampage in blood of classic vampire movies with ‘I Heard They Suck … Blood’

For some reason, it’s monster week here at the site, a good month and some change after Halloween, but we live in an actual nightmare, so why should we stop the bloodshed? It only seems fitting to end this week with another dose of horror, albeit this kind also packs a lot of fun and great callbacks to classic films, so I guess we can feel good amid a pit of senseless violence.

Canadian death-and-roll crushers VHS are here to splash your holiday fun with endless plasma on their killer fifth full-length record “I Heard They Suck … Blood,” an 11-track mauler that bathes in the fantastic misery of films such as “Lost Boys,” “Near Dark,” “Martin,” and others. Packed with some special guests from notable bands (more on them later), VHS delve right into the vampire horror genre like they’re as thirsty for life-saving juices as the characters they send up on these cuts. The band—vocalist/guitarist Mike Hochins, bassist Curtis Mill, drummer Andy Middaugh—serves up these homages in a disgusting stew comprised of death metal, thrash, grind, punk, and plenty of other heavy elements, pushing you on a breathless surge that can only end in pain and terror that you’ll actually enjoy.

“Vampiric Hemoglobin Suckers” is a strange, blood-smearing intro cut complete with dialog from “Lost Boys,” and then we’re into “Fake Blood and Push-Up Bras” the features guest vocals from Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad, which is only right. The track absolutely bludgeons, and strong riffs flex their muscles, adding to your misery. The leads go off as thrashy fun is achieved, and we’re then on to “The Frog Brothers” that also is another “Lost Boys” reference and knifes through with jolting growls and vicious mashing. The leads swelter and saxophone explodes, which makes total and complete sense and made me howl with laughter. Guts are diced from there, and the track ends with a wrenching pace. “Undead Casanova” has punchy riffs and back-and-forth vocals that rupture your flesh, the chorus getting beneath your skin. The playing is catchy as hell as it assaults you, synth blazes, and a “Fright Night” clip takes the track to its end. “Horror of Dracula” also features Strnad and starts with a Krusty the Clown clip (he kinda sorta utters the album title) before catchy riffs begin to chug. The dual vocals create a perfect, violent push and pull while the thrashing gets even meatier, bringing a hammer to your skull.

“A Town Called Purgatory” brings Southern-friend guitar work, maybe not the most expected thing from a Canadian band, and the bluesy stomp makes your insides ache. Death continues to open its jaws for consumption as the vocals mangle, the speed ignites, and everything winds up in dust. “Immortality Comes With a Price” features Dave Ingram from Benediction, and things gets moving after a clip from “Near Dark,” which means your body is compromised by the brutality. The vocals bubble as the track feels like it gurgles blood, ending with terrifying precision. “Martin, Martin” is based on George Romero’s 1976 vampire film named … “Martin.” It’s also fun as fuck as the playing is muddy, and Hochins wails, “Why do you drink blood?” as the band surrounds him with enough grime and filth as one can handle. “I’m Sorry Abby” features a clip from “Let Me In” and brings growls that curdle blood, and the guitar work amplifies the drama. Strange melodies make your brain ache as the playing has a strange Euro feel to it before ripping into your throat and leaving you gasping. “Getting the Gang Back Together” begins with a sample from “Monster Squad” before the riffs work into your mind, and the charging tempo makes it tough to catch your breath. The chorus scrapes, and there are stretches where punk bravado makes the track even tastier, ending with an awesome and forceful rush. “Black Mass” is the instrumental closer that contains clips from “Dracula A.D. 1972” and it’s a way to reset your blood pressure as the guitar glaze, hand drumming calms, and the dark vibe lets you rest. In peace.

VHS’s bloody, campy death metal is both violently perverse but also an absolute blast as “I Heard They Suck … Blood” can be a sure-fire record that gets annual visits each Halloween. But that isn’t to suggest it’s gimmicky and only works in that forum, because that would be selling this band and record way too short. This is a blood-and-guts death metal record that devastates but never takes itself too seriously, which is the same attitude displayed by the films they worship on this album.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vhsthunderbay

To buy the album, go here: https://vhshorror.bandcamp.com/album/i-heard-they-suck-blood

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wisebloodrecs

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