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Viva Death | review | punk | Lollipop
by Grady Gadbow
Living in the Northwest will sure make a fella skeptical of the gimmick line-up. From no damn bass player to nothing but bass players, they all fall short and I say, "Meat and potatoes, jeans and a T-shirt, bass, guitar, and drums, or back to Olympia with the lot of you!" And then along comes Viva Death out of California to prove me wrong and I take it all back.
With nothing but three baritone guitars and a drummer, they've nailed the rock and roll bull's eye. The album is permeated with a beautiful, creepy, sinister vibe. Bright, clean leads soar like vicious eagles over a dark jungle of chord progressions. Fuzzed-out vocals are melodically shouted with all the battlecry intensity of sex, death, and revolution.
Baritone guitars are funny things. Halfway between a guitar and a bass, they're generally considered inferior to more specialized contraptions and are rare. For songs written in the mediocre clef, this album shows incredible range and complexity. It's by no means a half-assed, weird guitar studio experiment. I just hope it's not a one-off side project thingy.
There's no other band quite like Viva Death, their style and skill is comparable to Rocket From the Crypt and early Fugazi. Another keen band that comes to mind is Vas, the L.A.-based duo fronted by fellow weird guitar owner and lyrical psychopath Paul Erickson. There's still a lot to be said for bass, guitar, and drums and no funny business, and before anybody gets any weird ideas, buying an unusual axe will not make you as good as Viva Death. Those guys have talent.
(2118 Wilshire Blvd. #361 Santa Monica, CA 90403)