Viva Death - Viva Death (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Viva Death

Viva Death (2002)


Viva Death is mainly the brainchild of Trever Keith and Scott Shiflett of Face To Face. Sure, Josh Freese [of the Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, and more] plays drums on the disc, and Chris Shiflett [of Foo Fighters/No Use For A Name] plays guitar, but this is mainly Trever and Scott's project.

I am thereby not surprised that it sucks.

Okay, a lot of you are pissed at me right now, so go ahead and post comments about how much I suck, how fat I am, etc. But if you actually buy this album, you will come to the same conclusion as I do: this is just bad.

The premise behind the band is all the guitars are baritone guitars - this means they are tuned in between your typical electric guitars and bass guitars. To quote the press release, "[the instruments have a] natural predisposition to create dangerous music." If that still doesn't make sense to you, think of the sinister themes from all the James Bond movies, and cross them with some minor key surf music [think the theme from Pulp Fiction]. Then add in Trever Keith's predictable monotone voice, and you have Viva Death.

I'll admit, the first couple of songs have my toes tapping. "Fundamentalist" is a great rocking opener to the disc, and it's followed by the CD's strongest cut, "the Start Up." Both these songs incorporate the influences stated earlier, and yet, both sound different enough to allow the listener to groove to both.

So where's the problem lie? In the majority of the album's other 13 tracks. They all just blend together. There is only so much you can do with a baritone guitar, and these guys pretty much covered all the bases after a handful of songs. The music just gets stale, old, repetitive, and headache inducing after a while, with only one minor respite: the campy pseudo-lounge jazz of "The Rigor Mortis Shake" halfway through the album. After that, it's just more of the same until the CD concludes at a way too heavyhanded 45:10.

Everyone always talks about Keith's ability to write thought provoking and intelligent lyrics, but why bother when you can't even understand what he's singing for the majority of the album? The vocals are so muddied on this album it's not even funny. They really wanted the guitars to take precedence over the words, which is simply pointless because a gimmick such as that wears thin really quickly.

There is really no reason you should buy this, unless you're a completist of some sort. I'd rather put on the latest Face To Face record than sit through this album again.

Blood and Oranges