Mexico has a long tradition in the dark arts of black lipstick application and PVC boots. For more than 20 years the goth subculture has been a vital force in the country’s underground, spawning everything from clubs, books and of course, bands. It’s a scene that’s still going strong with a large contingent lurking in the shadows, ready to don a vampire cape in order to have really bad (read: good) time.
Vladimir hail from the northern city of Monterrey, formed by Ricardo Ríos (vocals/guitar), Adriana De La Garza, (keyboards/vocals) and Oscar Mar (visuals). Their debut EP counts with some collaborations featuring members of fellow regios Bam Bam and Los Mundos; in fact, upon listening to their songs, one can think of them as Los Mundos’ darks cousins, more interested in collecting singles by Sex Gang Children instead of Spacemen 3. The EP comes courtesy of Abstrakt Muzak, a Houston based label that’s also home to Los Mundos as well as Mentira Mentira and White Ninja, among others.
In short, the band lays a contemplative brand of rock with smeared mascara and thick spiderwebs, with a healthy dash of garage rock riffage. Opening number “Cuadracula” establishes the band’s M.O: a full-on display of ugly overdriven surf riffs, deadpan vocals, and tongue in cheek song titles. Unlike many death rockers, Vladimir are very much invested in sound itself; on cuts like “Mounstr-Oh!” the band brings things to a slower pace to reveal a more textural side thanks to the tremolo-effected guitars, while Ríos proclaims the mantra “la ciudad es un cadáver.” There are some psych noise screeching freakouts/solos to keep listeners on their toes.
There has been a renaissance of sorts for the style. For years it has become musically stagnated but, as seen with the recent demo by goth punks Muerte, things are looking up for more styles to emerge besides the metal-infused melodramatic brand that has been the scene’s bread and butter for years. Vladimir shows a rough and fun formula that is sure to please pale depressed types and others in more colorful outfits to get down on the dancefloor and go berzerk.