Los Angeles’ alternative rock agents Viva Death are releasing their new Illuminate LP today via Functional Equivalent Recordings, and we have been blessed with the opportunity to host the premiere of this brilliant album.
Dear friends – this is a must-listen album. Offering a loaded 14-track LP after eight years of silence, Viva Death returns in full throttle with an ambitious record, chocked full of American Alt-Rock treasures. It is loud and groovy as hell, with a top-sound that is ready to win all the dedicated radio stations. As far as I can tell after listening to the album quite a lot, I feel that this is also originally constructed with all the necessary elements to fill large venues. This album is original, while not coming across like rock stars. This album has a unique advantage, like all original records, in that it holds fast in your player while screaming “we break out a sweat in our live performances”. Some things are obviously easier for people who are involved in rock music generally and when they become a team, they can pull off some mighty synchronized music. It’s the “norm” in their careers that easily leads them to great riffing, some stadium choruses, and the appropriate sound to dress it all with. I’m not saying that all super-groups are over the top releasing monumental records, but when it happens, their synchronicity is glaring and has us saying “what a band”.
Viva Death started as a baritone-guitar driven project, spearheaded by Scott Shiflett and Trever Keith of Face to Face (20 years successfully in post-punk). The lineup also came to include Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), highly achieved drummer Josh Freese (The Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer), and outstanding producer Chad Blinman (Face To Face, Jarboe, Faith and The Muse, Saves The Day, The Get Up Kids). On this particular album, Shiflett and Blinman’s output is outstanding with songs that are both unique and awesome.
In the 14 songs featured here, Viva Death seamlessly combine familiar tones with unfamiliar twists, weaving a clever and exceptional path through classic hard rock, alternative, post-punk and avant-garde, never devolving into any empty nostalgia. The Illuminate LP should be listened to as loud as when it was recorded. Fans of these genres should muster up their positive energy to unveil its unbridled creativity and unapologetic artistry.
There’s no way I can easily relate this album to any other records, past or present. I dare not loosely throw names on the table to imply they sound like this and that band. What they’ve produced here is a product of their inheritance via the whole American alternative sound and heritage – it’s powerful while still being highly melodic, diverse and catchy. I can suggest a few more titles to help you begin navigating this record: Sound The Alarm, Don’t Box Me In, Two Hands, New Terrors are for dancing and grooving all night long. Unclear drove me straight into Californian psych rock realms. Man In The Street figuratively put me under L.A.s bright lights. Damnatio Memoriae – the closing track of the album – is an 8-minute epos, suggesting a more prog-rock advance and a more laid-back approach by the band, while retaining a busy arrangement.
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Written by Mike D.