Art of Dying: My thoughts on Vices and Virtues…

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of rock bands formed in the 2000’s. My heart goes back to the 80’s where Hair Metal bands ruled. That’s just my taste. And what’s funny is that I discovered Art of Dying by accident…

You know how YouTube has those annoying advertisements for crappy musicians and stupid skincare products. So as I braced myself for 14 seconds of agony, I saw one of the greatest things I’d ever see for years:

I’ll let you see it for yourself:

The Heavy drums (Jeff Brown) and guitars (Greg Bradley, Tavis Stanley), complete with perfect black-and-white cinematography and a wild lead vocalist (Jonny Hetherington) were everything I was looking for. I quickly scrambled for this “Vices and Virtues”, the album title, and finally made a purchase on Itunes after not seeing it in stores.

I’ve been meaning to write about them for a while, especially since “Let the Fire Burn” came out, so I’m gonna do it now.

First of all, The Album to me (overall), is literally the “Nevermind”, “Ten”, and “Appetite for Destruction” for the 2010’s. Every song is worthy of being a “Single”, and could literally be an anthem in it’s own right.

Lyrics:

The lyrics, despite being simple, have a much deeper meaning and at the same time are so down-to-earth (which is why I compare them to Nirvana, aside from the fact that their second album is by far the best), and anyone except Frankenstein can relate.

I didn’t really understand “Die Trying” at first, believing it was simply a pun off of their band name, until Jonny came forward in an interview about his father having cancer. Watching the music video (Jonny walking from his home all the way to what we can assume is California), it’s obvious that this band doesn’t just sing about what’s cute sounding, but they really echo what the bands been through (although I doubt Jonny walked ALL the way…) It’s like the “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit” of the album.

“Get Through This” (or Get “Thru” This) is the second track, and the first of six tracks from the first eponymous album (2007) to appear on  Vices. This song is a REAL anthem, and I’ve read tweets where people say that it encouraged them throughout their daily lives. Also, this song is unique because it’s the albums shortest track, and has the simplest lyrics, yet still very meaningful (If I can get through this/I can get through anything/ If I can make it through this/ I can get through anything). How uplifting is that? (I work out to this song all the time). It really shows that this band isn’t to be taken lightly; very few songwriters can take simplicity and use it to mask complexity.

“Sorry” is the third track and the second longest. It opens up with a cool acoustic, before progressing into a soft rock… ‘explosion?’ But this song is very unique, and for TWO reasons: One, its deviates from the quintessential rock N roll lifestyle of booze, sex, and whatever we’ve seen already, to show a softer side (almost like the Sweet Child O’ Mine of Appetite, but darker). Also, it shows a more blatant fact: Art of Dying loves their fans! They actually constructed a compilation video of Fans holding up the sign “Sorry”, which can be seen or their YouTube… or below:

When was the last time a rock band has done something like this? Not often of course…

“Whole World’s Crazy” is an interesting track. It tells the story of young boy having life rough (He’s just a kid on the street/ Got it tough, trying to make ends meet), and a young girl with teenage pregnancy (She’s got a kid at thirteen/ He stole her innocence, fled the scene). Sentimental sounding, but Jonny unleashing is inner “Eddie Vedder”, with more aggressive vocals than even Die Trying. And the most memorable repetitive lyrics “Will I ever know his/her name?” It almost sounds like it’s coming from the perspective of an individual seeing the downward spiral of wayward youth (Something I do quite often, reminds me of that whole Mother Theresa perspective; conscience vs. compelling). Oh, and I love that slow down/ speed up they do right before the solo. A plus…

“Completely”… I’ve never known what to think of this song. This is the second song to make onto Vices from the first album, and it’s also the one song to be completely revamped (lyric wise). Either way… it’s my personal favorite song from their whole Chronology (It’s the main reason why I own Let the Fire Burn). At first, the song sounded like a dark, doom metal song minus the heavy Metallica-styled drums. But know it’s been remodeled to tell a more down-to-earth story of two people fine with breaking up. But the Chorus is amazing on both versions (Completely, Without me/What’s in your head, is on your hands/Completely, without me/ I over turned, I understand/Like an angel without wings/Or a song that never sings!) How much more awesome can a song get? The nu metal sounding solo is breathtaking, and the song has some of Jonnys highest vocals. An A plus!

“I Will be There” is that breath of fresh air, being much softer than most songs on the album. This is the third song from the AOD album to be revamped here, but the first time around it was more hard rock sounding. Of course, this rewrite (with some slight lyrical changes). Very sentimental, like a softer version of “Get Through This”…

“You Don’t Know Me” is the fourth AOD song on Vices, but that doesn’t mean that the song has lost its meaning. In fact, it’s one of the most meaningful songs on the album, one that I’m sure can be directed at one person in all our lives at the least ( You think you know me/ You think I care/ You should spend some time (sometime) with the person in the mirror). Now how true is that. Of course, I assume that as a rock star, people will always try and act as if they have you all figured out and always throw labels. Of course, that is completely irrelevant (unless your a groupie, I guess).

“Raining” is the fifth song to be taken from AOD, and this time it features Adam Gontier of the band Three Days Grace. Powerful song, almost echoing feelings of insecurity. Again, the down to Earth process reveals itself yet again ( I’m scared to look down/ Never been so high). At the same time, it could be just feelings of new rock-status (who knows). Brilliant song.

“Best I Can” is the longest track on the album, and it seems like how Jonny sings of not being perfect (Tonight I feel like the world won’t miss me/ So much to say but there’s no one listening) Yet formulates the chorus on a more positive note ( I am doing the best I can with everything I am/ Don’t you know nobody’s perfect/ Do you understand how hard I’m trying for you/ I am doing the best I can with everything I am/ Don’t you know I think you’re worth it) Very interesting song, and good manipulation of acoustic guitar…

“Straight Across My Mind” is pretty interesting, and it almost sounds either like the perspective of someone having a hard time letting go of a relationship ( The first time’s easy I could walk away/ But something in me makes me stay)( It’s like an obsession, an addiction/ You keep on running straight across, straight across my mind/ I’ll never look away/ It’s like the sun has opened up my eyes/ You’re straight across my mind). Sounds cheesy at first, but easy to connect to. Not one of my personal favorites from the band, but I guess these kinds of feelings resonate with most people. So at least they aren’t “out there” like DragonForce…

Yet for some reason, “Breath Again” almost comes across as  an echo or a follow up. ( When I hesitate I know it’s just too late to bring you back, but still I need you/ I can’t communicate the burden of this weight/ My world is black until I see you). But this song strongly reminds me of the song “Come As You Are” From “Nevermind”, because the lyrics directly contradict themselves ( I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I can finally breathe again/ Life’s too short, the day’s too long/ In the end I knew it all along/ In the end I knew it all along/ I knew it all along). Kurt seems to do the same thing in the mentioned song, so who knows what direction Jonny was taking on this track.

Now of course, there are two songs that are only featured on the deluxe version. “Better Off” Follows in the steps of “Completely” somewhat, with the heavy rock tone, and “Watching You Watching Me” is actually the sixth song from AOD, originally entitled “Fists of Clarity”.

OVERALL: I loved the whole album. It has everything that’s missing in the music industry dominated by electro-pop, dubstep, underdeveloped popstars, and beliebers: Real Music. Original lyrics. And of course, being so new to rock music in 2011, Art of Dying helped me discover Seether and Three Days Grace. So I owe them that much. The band has a lot of creativity, and are one of the best Canadian bands I’ve ever seen. Hopefully I can find other bands like them with a longer discography.

Anyways, I’m aware that traditionally, critics (AKA people without jobs), usually give a certain amount of stars to the album, so….

★★★★★

I guess they earned that much. Good luck in the future…

 

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One thought on “Art of Dying: My thoughts on Vices and Virtues…

  1. Enjoyed the review. It’s exciting to catch a band on the way up, and I believe that Art of Dying is just getting better and better. I’ve seen them live 4 times now at various festivals, and they are really talented.

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