Maynard James Keenan would be proud.
Being the new millennium and all, alternative music of today has strayed from the place of where alternative music came from in the early 90s. Bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Tool stood as monuments for how rock and roll would be angrier and more personal, intuitive and unabbreviated. On Vices, Dead Poetic have certainly bottled that charisma and whittled away any form of screamo critics thought they were. Capturing themes of—you guessed it—vices, the lyrical development of Vices strains through sexuality, pride, vanity and ultimately redemption.
With a solid two years between New Medicines and Vices, Dead Poetic toured like a machine. And perhaps that intensity on perseverance weathered the change in intensity on Vices. For those looking to fill their desires for another scream-sing album, you’re not going to find it here. A shallow reach into the past and Dead Poetic have showcased the elements at for which what made rock and roll “rock n’ roll’ 10-15 years ago.
Dead Poetic, formed by Jesse Sprinkle (drums), Zach Miles (guitar), Brandon Rike (vocals), Dusty Redmon (guitar) and John Brehm (bass), have served a third album that is aptly named and the nostalgia comes piping hot. Starting off the album is “Cannibal vs. Cunning,” a ripping alternative anthem that sets the tone for the first half of the album. Following are songs like “Narcotic” and “Long Forgotten” that follow a similar format but catch attention through angered vocals matched with emotional guitars. Percussions stay relatively on beat and only accent the veracity and antique rock sounds.
“Sinless City” may be the transitory track where the consistency of the album’s intensity is murmured. and consequently the vibe of the album turns to a more modern style of alternative rock; accessible and neatly packed to radio play. The guitars draw in a warmer climate, while the integrity of their rock sound remains. Rike’s vocals are calm at the right points and more controlled at the heavier points. The most unfitting and generally intermissional track is “Paralytic.” Percussionless, with a single guitar acting as pacifying breeze to proliferating vocals. Being the shortest song on the album (clocking in under three minutes), it neither distracts nor misleads the collectivity of songs.The title track proves to be the stamp on this envelope as it sends the album into redemption. This song bleeds for attention, as Rike calls out: “I’ve got Vices like any other man / Vices that you’re not used to / Vices that’ll make you think less of me.”
Assuming that family work well together, drummer Jesse Sprinkle and producer Aaron Sprinkle gathered the rest of the band together to wrap the collectivity of songs carefully. Aaron didn’t only bring stellar direction for the band but also a veteran to the game. The honesty of the album shines through when the group brought in legendary Chino Moreno (Deftones, Team Sleep) to help with the writing process (most notably on “Paralytic” and “Crashing Down” where Chino also supplies his vocals).
All things aside, how does the album stand up? While resurrecting familiar alt-rock sounds, especially on rhythm guitar, and a vibrant variety of vocal range, Vices doesn’t sharpen the blade of alternative music. No tracks protrude as extraordinary or easily addictive. With that said, the album is not a failure by any means. Is New Medicines better/worse? There’s no comparison. Both albums showcase completely different motives. Although Vices may have a hold on some, odds are the album won’t hold together strong enough in the tests of time.