originally posted on Wednesday, 17 April 2013
I had so much fun reviewing Art of Dying’s Vices and Virtues a few months ago, and I’ve enjoyed writing my reviews of independent bands and their independently released albums so much that I decided to mix the two, to show how far these bands can possibly go.
Originally formed in 2004/05 in Vancouver BC, the band then consisted of lead singer Jonny Hetherington and guitarist Greg Bradley as well as drummer Flavio Cirillo, bassist Matt Rhode and guitarist Chris Witoski. This line-up recorded their first 12-track independent album in 2007, which showed every bit of what the band would eventually become. The entire first half of the album was re-recorded onVices and Virtues, so the first half of this review may get on the path of comparing both versions of each song.
The album starts off with Get Through This, a song that would eventually become more better known asGet Thru This on Vices. Even in 2007 it was obvious that this would be an anthem for the band for many years to come. Despite some obvious production differences, this original version of the song is just as aggressive as it’s re-recording, and is one of those tunes that even a first time listener will be singing along with by the time the song gets to the last chorus. It’s difficult to say which of the two versions is better.
For Vices, I called You Don’t Know Me the most aggressive and heavy song on the album. This is still very much the case for this album. Musically the song is a high-speed road rager that hard rock fans anywhere would love. There is an obvious difference in the singing however. This first time around,Jonny sang the song less aggressive, intermittently screaming his brain out in the microphone, but maintaining a slightly more tamed voice throughout the rest of the song. Though the re-recording is better than the original, this version has 95% of the pieces that make the re-recording so good.
One of the finest moments on Vices is I Will Be There. On an album that isn’t afraid to show its lighter side, that song is truly a standout track. Though this album doesn’t have as much as a light side, it does have the original version of the track. Both versions are very similar, save for a few production differences. One obvious and unfortunate difference is the absence of the acoustic intro that the Vices version had, clearly because it hadn’t been thought up yet on this original version. Since this is the only true light-hearted song on the album, it has much more of an impact on the album then its re-recorded version does on Vices, competing with such songs as Sorry and Best I Can.
Fits of Clarity may not be familiar with just an avid fan of the band. The re-recorded version of this song was released as a bonus track for Vices and renamed Watching You Watching Me. Musically the songs are practically identical, the only obvious difference is the absence of the lyrics “Watching You Watching Me”, which was added in the re-recording. The song is a beautiful attempt at trying something out of the norm for the band. It is a slower paced song, not aggressive though it has its hard moments. There is no better display on the album of the bands ability to write a song with absolute excellence. The re-recoded version of the song is even better, with its better production giving the band the capability of emphasizing the dramatic moments of the song.
One memorable moment on Vices is the song Raining. It is the darkest sounding song on the album and among the angriest tracks as well…not to mention having Adam Gontier as a guest vocalist. Well the songs original version, originally titled Inside It’s Raining, may not have had Adam’s familiar voice singing along with Jonny, but that doesn’t take away from the songs sound. It’s actually great to hear Jonny singing throughout the song, hearing him harmonize with his own vocals and showing some true feeling behind the singing of the song.
The last of the re-recorded songs is Completely. This song is probably the most well produced song on the album. The music sounds nice and full with all instruments blazing and Jonny’s voice being at fine form. Though the re-recording is better, this version shows all to almost all of the elements that make the re-recording so great.
So ends the first half of the album. The rest of the songs are songs that can only be heard on this album which make them extra valuable. The first of these songs is Do What You Can. This song is every bit an alternative rock song, but not of the heavy Three Days Grace-ish kind, but more like a Shinedown track. This song does set the pace of what to expect from the rest of the songs on the album. The song is not angry or aggressive; it’s rather nice to listen to. If you’re looking for a good heavy track, this is not your song.
Crime starts off in a creepy dark fashion. You almost don’t expect it to pick up the way it does with its angry vengeful chorus. The bridge of the song is even more balls to the wall. The song is very slow paced, very similar to Raining. Both songs are equally as dark, but Crime takes the cake in terms of aggression.
Car Crash is a slow and rather gloomy song. It shows early signs of how tremendously melodic Jonny’s voice can be. The song maintains a slow and tamed sound, very unlike anything on Vices which makes this a gem. The last minute of the song, however, takes a complete u-turn, taking the opportunity to scream out one last yell of redemption. Alone is just as slow and gloomy. The song lyrics deal with that familiar topic of heart break, but Jonny shows that, while he doesn’t really sing of lost love, when he does, he sure knows how to write some incredible lyrics. This songs string section in the bridge makes the song impressively stand out. Build a Wall continues the slow and gloomy sound for just one more track. Unlike the previous two, however, this one is the catchiest one to sing along with. It’s also the longest clocking in at 6:31, though the last minute and a half or so is just feedback put through studio effects.
The album ends on an acoustic and sort of Christian note. Dog is my Copilot, (dog being God spelled backwards) features nothing but Jonny and an acoustic guitar singing about God. It is something very unexpected, especially since the band does not market themselves in any way as Christian rock, but even Christian rock artists such as Skillet and Red don’t show their faith on their sleeve as much as this song does. This is certainly a unique moment that any fan of the band should hear. The song makes good use of the acoustic guitar, not playing the song like a folk song but more like a rock ballad. The song ends on an aggressive note, with Jonny basically letting his voice go wild, a little too wild, while singing the chorus one last time.
In the end, this independent release eventually propelled the band to be discovered by Disturbedguitarist Dan Donegan, which resulted in Art of Dying touring with Disturbed, and eventually getting signed to Donegan and Disturbed vocalist David Draiman’s Intoxication records and would see them record Vices and Virtues, with only Jonny and Greg remaining as all three other members were replaced. The band continues to rise in popularity and the future still shows nothing but domination, and it all started with this simple 12 track debut independent album that every fan should hear.
“Build a Wall” – This choice was made exclusively picking from the second half of the album. This would be the best of those six songs to give its listener an idea of what the songs sound like. Build a Wall has the slow and gloomy side that most of the second half has, but has the catchiest chorus to sing along with, showing that the band does know how to write a great song. It doesn’t properly sum up the album as a whole, which is true. For a first time listener of the band in general, a song like Get Through This would be a more proper fit, but for the first half of the album in general I’d recommend listening to Vices and Virtues.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|Get Through This||2:28|
|You Don’t Know Me||3:10|
|I Will Be There||3:41|
|Fits Of Clarity||4:13|
|Inside It’s Raining||3:52|
|Do What You Can||3:21|
|Build A Wall||6:30|
|Dog Is My Copilot||5:24|