Viva Belgrado – Ulises

One of Spain's most energetic and emotional punk outfits

Artist: Viva Belgrado

Title: Ulises

Release: LP / Digital

Year: 2016

Label: Aloud Music Ltd., Walking Is Still Honest, Tokyo Jupiter Records

One of Spain’s most thoughtful screamo acts is back with a new LP after the success of Flores, Carne, an album that was on almost every punk-related emo blog and in the year-end lists of many people in 2014.

Now they have matured their sound, their lyrics, their emotions, the way they present their music. While their influences still come from the emotional side of punk and hardcore, the sound has deepened into influences that don’t only go into bands like Suis La Lune. You can hear traces of Pianos Become The Theet, Wildlife-era La Dispute, the last albums of Envy, but also hardcore and post rock in general. Raw anger and echoing and sweet instrumentation fight their way into the craft of this new piece. Let’s give it a try!

The first thing that struck me was the production. It’s clean, polished and detailed. Even with all the details in the guitars, they don’t fall apart from the drums, the synth or the bass. The voice may be screaming or talking, reciting, declaiming or spouting, but we still hear everything as a whole. This is something that is on the same level as bands that are on labels like Pure Noise, No Sleep or Topshelf. But you know, English rules the world (although Dog Knights Productions released an LP by a Spanish screamo band in 2013). Still, it’s nice that Viva Belgrado released their album in Spain, their home country, and Japan, which gets a mention on the ninth track, “Apaga la llum” (“En Tokio no paraba de nevar” / “It didn’t stop snowing in Tokyo”). But what about the songs themselves?

The album works as a whole. The songs are cohesive, but without being too flat or boring, even though they have almost the same vibe. They go from post-rock riffs to slow ambient passages with hard-hitting drums to emotional and raw instrumentation. Viva Belgrado don’t do anything new, but they create good and consistent songs that use clichés in a good way. What I miss here are some longer songs, because that’s something the band could do very well, but doesn’t really try. The ambiences have the potential to develop further, longer. At least we know they’ve gotten better with each release. The old saying “the first/previous album was better” certainly doesn’t apply to them.

If Topshelf Records wore you out with the new-old post-rock and screamo sound in the early 2010’s, then maybe this is not the album for you, but if you are a punk and screamo enthusiast, then stop reading and hit play. Also note that the album is free on their bandcamp page linked above.

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