Face to Face's Trever Keith and Scott Shiflett stuck with a heavy, ballsy sound when they formed Viva Death, but with a brand-new dynamic. Clearly, Viva Death takes from early-'80s post-punk and new wave that's akin to Joy Division and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, but with a slick swagger all their own. Viva Death is a continuous rock & roll rumble -- swift with jagged guitars and layered percussion. Keith is almost a darkman's romantic. His signature punk growl is scaled down for something more sinister, and it's mysteriously appealing. He's supercharged on the fantastic hardcore/surf rock bombast of "The Start Up." "Professionals" dances with goth-like threads, but the haunting twitter patter of "Desire Us a Flood" showcases Viva Death's fiercest effort yet. Faith & the Muse's Monica Richards provides entrancing backing vocals, while Keith's sultry brood is a parallel to Nick Cave and Peter Murphy during his Bauhaus days; the urgency of Viva Death exudes a passionate desire to break down pop mainstream, but without anger. The cathartic, yet fiery designs of "Murder by Proxy" and "Crosses" are evident of that. With added instrumentation from A Perfect Circle's Josh Freese and Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett, Chad Blinman's production on Viva Death makes for an impressive first album. Together, the five-piece defined a keenly different, thirsty, aggressive rock sound in comparison to each member's other work. It's an intriguing move.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson