Kill Vargas: Tunnel Vision

Band: Kill Vargas
Album: Tunnel Vision (March 2017)
Genre: Punk / Rock / Alternative / Grunge
City: Wichita, Ks
Standout tracks: Anyways, Absolute Zero
Seen live: yes

The third album by Kill Vargas “Tunnel Vision” has the same attitude from Noise (2013) and the same great tone and refined sound from Agitator (2015). This album is the first (so far) for the band  to show significant maturing as musicians; in particular, their song writing composition.  Although I enjoy Kill Vargas’ attitude and vibe, they do have a tendency to use “recycled riffs”. This can make every song sound very similar. Tunnel Vision shows significant improvement in making each song sound unique and distinguishable.

Example from Agitator: “I’m Fine” and “Figured It Out”.

Here is a good example of what I mean by recycled riffs. There is a Japanese Punk Rock band called Maximum the Hormone. On their Buiiki Kaesu album, if you listen to the first 30 seconds of these songs, you can see the similarities in each song. Louisiana Bob.  Police Benz. Black ¥Power G-Men Spy Buiiki Kaesu.  THIS VIDEO shows hoe even Blink 182 has the same problem. I’m not exactly innocent of this myself, so if its good enough for pros to do it, I’m sure its no big deal for Kill Vargas to do it.

I was talking to Scott Spriggs of Naughty Dog Records, and he said that the band would often write dozens of songs and decide which ones were best to perform and record and toss out the rest. That would help explain the recycled riffs. By going through each version of the riff, you can pick out the one that sounds best. In a way, that style of writing will allow you to explore multiple aspects, options and directions of a single riff. It is an interesting technique for cranking out a lot of new songs and finding out what styles work best for the riff. There is a method to the madness. It was smart to not put the similar songs close by each other in the track order.

Enough about old Kill Vargas albums!

In their newest album, Tunnel Vision, they have managed to keep their attitude, vibe, and sound; however, each track on this album is easily distinguishable from each other. That is the reason why I believe this to be their best record to be released thus far. My favorite is “Absolute Zero”. It has a cool, smooth, laid-back vibe to it. The unusual laid-back feel they display, instead of the usual driving up-tempo, (in my opinion) is a welcomed change. They seem so comfortable in this style. It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for them. What I guess I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t feel like a forced change. It feels natural. I feel like I should be wearing sunglasses while take a slow ride on a motorcycle with ZZ Top smoking cigarettes. (feel free to use that as an idea for a music video)  Absolute Zero also features a slight different guitar tone than what we are used to on previous Kill Vargas albums. Echo/reverb on the rhythm guitar parts and the lead guitar parts are much more smooth. Very Tasty. It’s a surprisingly blues-ish tone. The layered guitar parts really shine on this song.

The other song I want to talk about is “Anyways”. My first thought when I heard this song was:
“Did…Did Kill Vargas just write a ballad?…But punk rock bands don’t write ballads! …Wait,… this isn’t a ballad…. It’s an Anthem!”

I like the use of chromatic scales in this song. They are everywhere, but tastefully. I barely noticed it (until I hyper-focused the songs). Adding backup vocals was a good touch as well. The added guitar parts really help give the song have a full sound.

The true gem of this song starts around 2:29. The drums and bass cut out just leaving vocals and guitar. It’s here you can see the vocal melody just swing smoothly between chords. I love the 5th chord in the progression and how much tension it brings before resolving. At 2:51, the guitar and vocals drop out as the bass and a hip-hop style electronic beat comes in. It almost seems to come out of nowhere. It’s not something I’d expect from Kill Vargas. It just goes to show you that Kill Vargas is experimenting and evolving their sound as their song compositions matures. This little bridge, that turns into an instrumental chorus before going back to a full chorus before ending out the song was perfect. I hope that Kill Vargas will incorporate more things like this in the future.

  • Kill Vargas reminds me so much of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Watch THIS VIDEO to see the gorilla from the cover of Noise win an epic battle!

  • Also watch THIS VIDEO with the sound off. At 1:15 start Tunnels by Kill Vargas. In fact, just mute the whole movie and blast Kill Vargas on repeat!

In Conclusion: It never hurts to mix it up. The only criticism I could think to offer on previous albums was about making each track more distinguishable and unique by avoiding recycled riffs.  But they already seem to have addressed that in Tunnel Vision. I keep listening to the whole album and end up putting it on repeat. Its just a fantastic record. If you liked Agitator, then you need this album. They really have out done themselves this time. I look forward to see how well they grow as musicians. Buy the album while you can and don’t miss out as Kill Vargas continues to improve themselves. The Album release party is Friday March 17th, at Mead’s Corner at 7pm.

Visit them on Facebook, Twitter to check for show dates/events. If you can’t make it out to a show, you can listen to their music on SoundCloud, ReverbNation, BandCamp, YouTube. Get the album on Spotify, BandCamp, iTunes, or Amazon!!

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