The Vice – White Teeth Rebellion Review

Genres create expectations. That’s largely their purpose. You categorize music into recognizable sounds and that way you know roughly what sort of sound to expect when a band’s genre or combination thereof is explained to you. Black n’ roll, the combination of black metal’s dark intensity and hard rock’s catchiness and swagger, has a broad range of expectations to operate in, from the icy cold of Satyricon to the incomprehensible party anthems of Kvelertak. Wherever on the scale it lands, though, I never expected White Teeth Rebellion by Swedish outfit The Vice to be boring.

In part, this is perhaps due to the misleading label. There is even less black metal in this than in Kvelertak, which was already light enough on it to have a track about the 80’s. Remove the harsh vocals and The Vice is merely mid-paced melancholic hard rock, reminding me the most of The Black League, the now-defunct band of ex-Sentenced vocalist Taneli Jarva. Rebellion hovers somewhere in between laid-back and languid for the most part, though it shows the capability for whipping itself into a more energetic flight on the title track or “Run to Seed.” The guitars have a classic, jangly quality, and the bass is fatter than deep-fried butter, and because of this, the sonic textures are the most enjoyable thing on the record.

But the band has two major issues that sap the record of energy, and the first is the vocal style. This is best described as an airy, half-whispered croak, one that bears striking resemblance to parseltongue as depicted in the Harry Potter movies. Singing as if speaking to snakes sounds somewhat exciting, but somehow, sleepy snores show sooner than spirited shouts.1 He constantly sounds as if telling you hushed secrets in a ragged, booze-addled tone, like that hobo I met under a bridge before he got all knifey on me. With very little variation in tone, pitch or delivery, the wise hobo is the weakest individual link in the chain of command within The Vice.

But worse than that, the songwriting is dull as a brick. Hard rock based music doesn’t work without a few good hooks, and none of the riffs on White Teeth Rebellion are memorable at all. The guitars have the jangling down pat, but nothing else, so all the songs become a hazy blur of unfocused rambling with no edge or contrast. One distinct element that plagues the album is coasting, where the guitars and bass just kind of stop for a half or full measure, as if considering the next step in the song before carrying on. Opener proper “Barren State” is a particularly egregious example, but like a picture with a hidden image, once you’ve noticed it, it pops up everywhere. Every track that suffers from this becomes an experience equivalent to watching a streaming video with slightly too slow internet, giving you a second of buffer every 10 seconds. Additionally, both the energy and quality are front-loaded, with the last few tracks downright lethargic without evoking the sort of melancholy they seem to be going for.

Combine all of the above and you have an album where you can tell how it might have worked, if only the band had done nearly everything differently. The nice guitar and excellent bass sound are a good foundation to build upon, and the few occasions where the despondency in the music is actually noticeable, The Vice almost touch upon something good. But with a near-complete absence of memorable riffs or vocal hooks, a voice that hushes you to sleep, and no meaningful emotional response, anything that could have been good is shoved to the background so far one wonders whether the band is capable of improving upon their formula at all. Beyond perhaps opening the Chamber of Secrets, White Teeth Rebellion has no use save a sleeping aid.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Noble Demon
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 7th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Five alliteration points awarded to House GardensTale.Defense Against the Dark Arts Master Professor Steel.
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