The last two years haven’t been kind to any of us, let alone artists who need to cut their teeth on the stages of events and gigs all over the country. However, Victor and the Bully seem to have been very busy.
As the country locked down, lead singer Victor Ghastly recognised the importance of being able to communicate with our friends and stay in touch. He arranged a 24hr zoom room for people to dip in and out of whenever they needed to see a human face. He, Crowboy and their old (band old, not age old) Billy Rebel band mates started a monthly podcast called Sin & Gin which has been positively received by fans all over. Then space age songstress Halo joined the group to make a trio and helped forge their new album which they first had to practice remotely until lockdown restrictions eased.
There’s a lot of changes going on in the world at the moment so the first listen to Embrace the Disgrace was like a cool breeze on a muggy day. It’s an interesting hark back to “original” Victor and the Bully. Whereas 8th Deadly Sin saw the band take a slight different direction in their style, Embrace the Disgrace has that familiar old fashioned Victor and the Bully feel to it; from the choirs of Wide Open to the black humour of Danza Los Muertos. However, even though first impressions seem to be allowing us to observe Victor and the Bully rewind the clock to a simpler time, the addition of Halo and Crowboy has seen their sound make a notable evolution. It sounds fresher and cleaner thanks to the slightly higher pitched backing vocals of Halo and the music is slicker and harder hitting now that musicians with equal skill are involved with the production.
Saying that, I don’t want you to think that this is a simple clone of Deathbed Confessions. Far from it in fact. While I can hear elements of historical works such as Worked to Death, Devil’s Got My Soul and Stone Cold (as well as the obvious nod to fan favourite Every Fight is a Food Fight for a Cannibal in the shape of Prey) this album incorporates new genres such as heavy electric guitar riffs and 80s video game bleeps.
One part of the album I do like is that Crowboy has taken control of lead vocals on one or two of the songs. I would have loved to have seen Halo have a song for herself, but reportedly, time restraints of when she joined the band made that an impossibility. Which hopefully means that we have something to look forward to in the future. Especially given how good her live performance of the powerful ballad “Am I” was.
Victor and the Bully – Embrace the Disgrace album review: Favourites
I have a few firm favourites in the album. Automatic Heart sounds like it’s been pulled from a Steam Powered Giraffe gig but for the familiar angel choir. This is helped along by Crowboy’s clean cut, smooth vocals.
Prey is a follow on to Every Fight is a Food Fight for a Cannibal and this time tells the story from the point of view of the person being hunted. It has such fluid and intelligent lyrics and the verses, bridge and chorus connect so smoothly, you can’t help but love it.
Play This Song at my Funeral is just sheer beauty.
I love the aesthetic Rock Opera style of Miami Vampires with it’s 80s synth which likely inspired the name as a parody of 80s detective show Miami Vice. I can’t find a reference to Miami at all though. I’ll assume the vampires wear hawaiian shirts or something.
Victor and the Bully – Embrace the Disgrace album review: Conclusion
The world has grown slightly darker over the last few years and Embrace the Disgrace is a clear beacon of fun lighting our way. That might seem like hyperbole, but as I write this I’m listening to Counting Crows Feet which is literally a song about getting old but I can’t help but tap my foot and smile as Victor makes me feel ok about my impending old age.
One of the many positive influences that Victor and the Bully has on the steampunk community is that they’re a funny, hugely entertaining, hilarious group that put a large emphasis on having fun and not caring what anyone thinks. Embrace the Disgrace pushes that message home with many of the songs as well as the actual title of the album.
The band have always championed individuality. From simple lines in songs such as “We don’t care what people think” in Suit Up to “Let’s just be disgraceful” in Counting Crows Feet, to entire songs such as F.R.E.A.K.S. Now we have the title of an actual album which encourages us to be ourselves and to hell with what society says or thinks we should do.
We’ve all lost two years of our lives, do we want to spend the rest of them toeing the line to how people think we should act? Well, the beauty of Victor and the Bully’s image, the message they deliver and the steampunk community as a whole as that whether you decide to or not is entirely your choice. You can be yourself to any degree and the band and community will support you.
Embrace the Disgrace will be released on 29th April 2022.
You can pre-order the album from their Big Cartel page by clicking this text. from the 1st April 2022. There’s also lots of other goodies for sale including art work of the stunning album cover and rather delightful enamel badge.