D-beat has been beaten like a dead horse. Every new band with bullet belts and Amebix t-shirts thrashes through the motions. Though Victims will be new to many Americans thanks to Deathwish, Inc. reissuing their latest, Killer, they have torn up stages for a decade. While nowhere near as ferocious as Skitsystem, Wolfbrigade, or Tragedy, Victims bring an idiosyncratic rage to D-beat.

Destroy and Rebuild
No Reason

In contrast to previous releases, Killer boasts increased melody, hook-laden riffs, and some, well, killer dual guitar harmonizing. Clearly guitarist Jon Lindqvist devoted time to sharpening his skills. Wild dueling solos mark many songs, including the savage “Destroy and Rebuild.” Vocalist/bassist Johan Eriksson, too, lets up on monotone shouting for more tuneful howling at times.

The biggest mistake D-beat makes is neglecting variety. Sure, minute-long blasts of speed and half-time breakdowns provoke floor movement. But what listeners remember are melody and dynamics. Victims finally learned this, making Killer their most accomplished effort. Though they still devote significant time to relentless assaults, they wisely incorporate nontraditional elements into an economical 24 minutes and 27 seconds.

– Casey Boland

Amazon (CD)
Amazon (MP3)
eMusic (MP3)
Deathwish, Inc. (CD, LP)