Vis Vires - Inside the hate 4/5

Reviewed: 1-11-08


1. Like a ghost
2. Bleeding tree
3. Your hands
4. We are the shadows
5. Flesh invaded
6. In memory
7. Upon a burning cross
8. Inside the hate

Every so often, one comes across an unheralded, obscure CD that simply astonishes with its creativity, melody and brilliance, even though most people never heard it. The 2004 debut from Georgia's now-defunct Vis Vires is just such a CD. 'Inside the hate' was a self-released affair whose lack of promotion was matched by unassuming packaging, guaranteeing that it would fly under the radar of even the most studious American metalheads. By the time I got my hands on a copy of it, courtesy of Sentinel Steel a few months ago, Vis Vires were already deceased. Indeed, their MySpace page is emblazoned with the pithy epitaph, "Vis Vires was born, flourished briefly, and died." More's the pity.

Describing Vis Vires's music is extremely challenging, because they were one of those rare bands that ignored the "heavy metal rulebook" for songwriting and simply played whatever they wanted. The result is a dizzying amalgam of styles, moods and feels. At its core, the music is fast, melodic, guitar-dominated heavy metal with technically proficient, organic playing and no keyboards. I detect elements of classic thrash/speed metal, melo-death, power metal, and traditional metal of the Maiden variety, but there are enough curveballs that the music can reasonably be classified as progressive as well. But please don't get the wrong idea. We're not talking progressive in a Dream Theater way. Instead, Vis Vires are progressive in the sense that their arrangements are often unpredictable and experimental. Band comparisons are virtually impossible, but the best description might be to blend the vocal melodies of Division, the unbridled chaos of early Widow, the hooks of early In Flames, the attacking guitars of early Children of Bodom, and the technicality of a band like Toxik. The result of such an endeavor might (and only just might) sound something like this Vis Vires debut. Maybe the closest comparison would be to Mendeed's 'The dead live by love' opus from 2007, in terms of the fiery guitar work and the melodic sensibilities of the music, but Vis Vires paint from a much more diverse palette than the young Scottish lads (whose band is also sadly R.I.P.).

That's not to say that 'Inside the hate' is enthusiastically recommended to every devotee of the aforementioned bands. It isn't. Readers should be forewarned that there are some elements that close-minded metalheads (such as myself) might have difficulty stomaching. The mostly clean vocals of Alexi Aleister are expressive and tuneful, but sometimes cross the line to whiny emo-isms that might be disconcerting to denim'n'leather purists. Aleister's clean vocals are backed by occasional supporting raspy growls (hence the Widow comparison) that may be distracting to some, although I think they fit the music well. Lyrically, the band get a bit too much into teen gothic imagery for my tastes, covering such topics as sacrificing black hearts, slitting wrists, love being a filthy slut, and the like. Based on these considerations, some might dismiss Vis Vires out of hand as a trendy false metal band that should be shunned. That would be a grave mistake, because the music is fantastic. The songs are captivating and intense. The guitar work is aggressive, melodic and stellar. And the vocal combination works well. Ultimately, Vis Vires struck gold with 'Inside the hate', a stellar release sporting a fresh approach to the power metal sounds we love. If you're intrigued, surf over to the band's (currently) still-intact MySpace page and listen to some clips to see if Vis Vires might be just the thing to help you shake off the stale doldrums of 2007 and kick off your new metal year in style.




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