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Aural Pleasure Review

Viet-Ruse: 'Para Bellum'

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At barely over 28 minutes long, here's an eight-song recording that feels like an EP but has the personality of a full-fledged album. Opener "Call It Romance" sets the tone for the whole trip: it takes its time before the vocals hit you along with a hook-and-riff display of power and urgency. Those first 90 seconds tell you everything you need to know about Viet-Ruse: this is a visceral band that's powerful enough to satisfy your punkish needs, sophisticated enough for those who like twists and turns, and accessible enough for those who want simple rock 'n' roll fun. Myke Miranda's vocals (helped by well-placed harmonies throughout) are delivered with confidence, and even at its most intricate the band never sounds self-indulgent. There's no reggae this time, and at times the beat could easily be transformed into a Latin party. Instead, the band rightly opts for a two-guitar attack of the best kind: the kind that makes you want to go see them live. You'll have the chance to do just that when they play at Hi-Tones on June 30. But make no mistake — Para Bellum has the songs, not just the power.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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