Victims of Circumstance's ska-punk album 'Five' packs upbeat brassy anthems with high-energy drumming: Review

Victims of Circumstance's ska-punk album 'Five' packs upbeat brassy anthems with high-energy drumming: Review
Victims of Circumstance (Press Handout)

Victims of Circumstance have announced the release date of their fifth full-length studio album, safely titled 'Five', which is set to be unleashed January 24. Founded in 2005 in Clearwater, Florida, Victims of Circumstance is a punk rock and ska band known for blending pop-hooks with a unique style of ska. The band consists of members: Michael Smyth (vocals and guitar), Glenn Stewart (drums), Lindsey Pittard (bass), Jason Atheney (saxophone), and Devin Johnson (trumpet).

Victims of Circumstance, know as the VOC by their fans, amassed a loyal following while playing around their home state of Florida before setting out on a tour that ended with an invitation to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' 10th Hometown Throwdown music festival in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2007.

Victims of Circumstance has performed with numerous national acts including Less Than Jake, Big D and the Kids Table, The Pietasters, The Aquabats, Mustard Plug, Whole Wheat Bread, The Toasters and a list of many more.

In early 2011, the VOC flew to Japan where they recorded their first live album, 'Live in Japan', released that year. The group has been touring and pushing sublime party anthems, stirring the attention of fans, since.


Now, with the release of 'Five' we are offered a jet-fueled explosive album. 'Five' is a celebration of the marriage between ska and punk recorded in superior quality, and from song to song, we are captured by music that resonates on all levels of punk rock and roll.

The band has encapsulated a unique blend of powerful instrumental grooves and layered vocals that reveals a signature sound apart from the rest. It shines in its brass scores carried by high-energy drumming that stops and starts at just the right places to keep its listeners attentive.

There are no soppy slow jams on 'Five' as the VOC proudly shine the spotlight on the album's sheer levels of high energies and instruments that rocket its listeners into cheerful oblivion. As stated earlier, the brass scores are one of the major highlights of 'Five', offering rich, enhanced tones that both amplify the high paces of the music and, during such up-tempos, are surprisingly soothing at times.


The recording quality needs a mention as it diverts from the regular punk recordings attuned to a "garage" sound. It is clear, the music is tight, concise and in-your-face with vocals that are strong and crisp, even though they adopt a gruff application to them.

Victims of Circumstance - 'Five' cover art (Press Handout)

'Obey the Rules' beautifully presents a reggae theme with soothing brass and chimes of the guitar, and halfway in, an explosive doubled-up tempo and we immediately want to rock out along with the band once again.

'Never Have I Ever' features a more romantic number with the vocals singing an ode at a lightning pace with music that encapsulates cheer and the excitement of relationships. 'Never Have I Ever' is not a slow ballad by any means.


Most of the songs on 'Five' carry strong bassline grooves in traditional ska fashion, like in 'Roll the Dice', the opening of 'Obey the Rules', and the warrior track 'Involuntary' that pair with the drums perfectly and elevate the impacts from verse to chorus to bridge and so on with quick, snapping fills between.

VOC leapfrog from track to track, identifying as a unique group with such tricks, outlining clearer characteristics than the norm. They stand out on any punk rock/ska playlist.

During the summer of 2015, VOC completed their third 3-week European tour in celebration of their 10th anniversary. Tour dates included several festivals such as Boomtown Fair and playing an all-out killer set on the main stage during the final day of the world's biggest punk rock festival, 'Rebellion'. 


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