At the Launch Music Conference, held every year in Lancaster Pa, one of the most valuable sessions is called “Can you handle the truth?” where artists have 60 seconds to play any song in front of a panel of industry professionals and are judged solely based on that 60 seconds.
Unarmed for Victory, who release Viceversa on Red Cord this month, could benefit from the advice of a panel of industry pros. While researching and watching videos of the band, not only do they seem like a great group of guys, but they genuinely have fun together as a band of brothers, which is the most positive thing I can muster up about UFV and their new release.
I gave Viceversa my undivided attention and listened to it five times through, and short of the obvious pauses in between tracks, it sounds like one 34-minute song instead of 10. This entire album reeks of mediocrity, with very average, run-of-the-mill breakdowns and overly simplistic song structures.
The first thing you will notice with Viceversa is that the overall production, to no fault of UFV, is shockingly dreadful. The mix is muddy and distant, with little separation between instruments, but production alone is not the only problem here. Phil Roche’s vocals lack passion, brutality and power. They sound strained and tedious with almost no inflection. The clean vocals are sophomoric. It amazes me they signed off on clean vocals that crack and are pitchy on “Home is Not a Consequence.” Guitars are annoyingly repetitive and lack imagination. Synths are almost completely irrelevant and distant while bass and drums are safe – which isn’t a bad thing.
It’s an interesting decision as some their old material was highlighted with creative, had better production, better screams and nice cleans. Viceversa has a lack of direction and is trying to be too many things. UFV needs to figure out what they are. Hardcore? Progressive? Djent? Pop? Punk?
UFV need to drop back and punt and get back to the writing/singing formula from the 2011 version of the band. Once these guys figure out who they are as a band, they’ll be able to capitalize on their own potential.