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Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice

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Album Review

In fall 2005, Vaux was dropped from Lava/Atlantic just before their third album, Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice, was set to be released. Nearly a year later, the band's intended major-label debut resurfaced on their own Vx imprint, and while the album's tight, shiny production hints at its origins, its harsh but accessible songs show that Vaux's edge wasn't dulled during their stay at Atlantic. "Cocaine James" is as fierce as anything they've recorded, with violent rhythms and bludgeoning breakdowns that recall their earlier work as well as contemporaries like the Blood Brothers. "Are You with Me," meanwhile, makes interesting use of screamed backing vocals buried deep within the mix. There are a handful of more straightforward — but still razor-sharp — songs, such as "Don't Wait," but even these have a more creative touch than what's usually expected from state-of-the-art alt-rock (especially "A Simple Man," which exudes creepiness thanks to its sinister keyboard melody). However, on most of Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice, Vaux takes the opportunity to expand their horizons, incorporating elements of glam, industrial, and electronic music into their sound. Radiohead is a major influence: "Identity Theft" pairs keening, Thom Yorke-esque vocals with extreme dynamic shifts, while "The Rope, the Pistol, the Candlestick" has a brooding ambience and glitchy beats (not to mention a clever allusion to Clue). There's also a touch of the glam-prog bombast Marilyn Manson flirted with during the Mechanical Animals era, particularly on "Never Better." To Vaux's credit, however, they never feel like they're mindlessly aping these influences. Instead, these nods to other artists who express their disgust — or distress — with the world in a highly stylized way help make Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice the band's most ambitious, and accomplished, work yet. While the wait for this album wasn't necessary, it was certainly worth it.


Formed: 1997 in Denver, CO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Hailing from Denver, the pinch-hitting metal act Vaux is comprised of Greg Daniels (guitar/keyboards), Joe McChan (drums), Ryder Robison (bass), Quentin Smith (vocals), Chris Sorensen (guitar), and Adam Tymn (guitar). The six-piece came together in 1997 under the Eiffel moniker, hammering out their own post-grunge angst from Tymn's basement. The 7" single To Write a Symphony was self-released a year later while the boys were still attending college; Eiffel self-financed West Coast gigs for the next...
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