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Viet-Ruse launches tour with release of impressive 'Para Bellum'

Photo: Steven Gilmore, License: N/A

Steven Gilmore

War is hell: Viet-Ruse

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Drawn from the Latin phrase "si vis pacem, para bellum" ("If you want peace, prepare for war"), the title of Viet-Ruse's second album, Para Bellum, is a drumbeat for action.

"To us it means that, if you want to accomplish or overcome something, you have to expect the worst," said Myke Miranda, singer and guitarist of Viet-Ruse. Starting out in 2001, jamming to street-punk at late-night parties down Military Drive, the four- piece band has experienced their share of hardships ranging from their inability to find the right bass player to dealing with very old equipment and multiple breakups.

Fast-forward over 10 years later and much has changed. After evolving their sound into a modern version of punk reminiscent of the Rifles and the Jam, the band is now celebrating its second album with a release and tour kick-off party at Hi-Tones on June 30.

Six months in the making, Para Bellum ventures into an eclectic array of sounds that doesn't wholly embrace any genre. The new album is a tangle of contradictions — it features the abrasiveness of punk, the soothing coax of indie rock, the catchiness of pop, and the infectiousness of ska.

"To be honest, I don't think a lot of people in San Antonio know how to describe us," said lead guitarist Chris Rocha. "When people ask me to describe our music, I just say it sounds like Viet-Ruse."

Although both albums are a solid collection of songs, Para Bellum boasts a musical creativity lacking in their self-titled debut. That first album garnered them a reputation as a reggae-punk band, and it's easy to see why — riddled with aggressive power chords and catchy horn lines, their former album is more linear than Para Bellum. Featuring a blend of beautifully arranged chords ("Call It Romance"), aggressive clamors of drums ("Gun Machine"), and smooth guitar solos ("Point Of View"), Para Bellum is much more intricate and complex, with hardly any traces of Jamaica.

"There is no reggae in this album, but definitely in the future," said Miranda.

What remains are polished, well-crafted songs filled with the punk-ridden attitude of early Clash.

"We just did our thing and had full creative freedom," said bassist Justin Siller. "No one told us what to do, when it's going to come out, and how we're going to sound. This new album is just full creative experimentation."

Although the band is confident fans will dig Para Bellum, they have mixed feelings about their first Midwest and East Coast tour.

"We're all just very anxious and a little nervous because we probably don't have any fan base up there," said Siller, "but that's the beauty of touring: just exposing yourself musically and hoping for the best."

No matter what happens, the first and last show will be the best.

"We love playing [in San Antonio] before and after tours," said drummer Mateo Arredondo. "You can go as far as you want, but nothing can ever really compare to playing at home." •

Viet-Ruse, DJ Scotty, Winning Time, Mrs. Howl, Bite Lip Bleed

$3 (21 & over)
9pm Sat, June 30
621 E Dewey

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