Art of Dying/Rise Up/Better Noise Records
Canadian hard rock band Art of Dying returns to the scene after a brief hiatus with their five-song anthemic EP Rise Up. Now a quartet, after the departure of guitarist and founding member Greg Bradley, Jonny Hetherington (vocals), Cale Gontier (bass), Tavis Stanley (guitar), and Jeff Brown (drums), are bringing it harder and heavier. Four bars into the first track of Rise Up, it’s clear Art of Dying has been to the woodshed.
The title track “Rise Up” kicks you in the face with an insane battle cadence courtesy of the rhythm section of Brown and Gontier. There’s no telling how much blood ended up on Brown’s sticks, but if you haven’t thrown horns by the bridge, maybe an epic guitar battle between Stanley and featured artist Dan Donegan of Disturbed will do the trick.
Track two, “Tear Down the Wall,” feels a bit more like the 2011 Vices and Virtues Art of Dying, featuring the solid vocal styling of Hetherington. However, this is not the Hetherington of old; his voice is grittier and his message fervent. Where the first track introduced a new sound, this track introduces a new Jonny.
AOD turns down the attitude and dials up the vulnerability with “Everything.” It is structurally haunting, lyrically perfect, and rich in those three-part harmonies that set AOD apart from their hard rock contemporaries. With lines like “I’m three sheets, but I meant every word I said,” and “I’m tired of drinking myself sober,” this is an honest mea culpa that begs you to put your lighters in the air.
In “Eat You Alive,” Brown and Gontier lay down a rhythmic frenzy for Hetherington’s vocal abandonment. They’re “locked in a cage, feeling the rage,” and you get it. This post-punk homage is heavy on angst, another great and unexpected move from AOD.
Ironically, the last cut on the EP is titled “Some Things Never Change.” Whether it was two years off the road, or two months locked in David Bendeth’s studio, Art of Dying has changed. There is a new cohesiveness and a willingness to experiment with abandonment. Art of Dying is not just Jonny and company anymore. This is a band that has finally, after 11 years, found their stride, and they are ready to rise up indeed.