Wrapped in controversy, the new release from Vancouver band Living With Lions will be already in the awareness of others though for the wrong reasons. Thankfully the band, with new album “Holy Shit”, deliver much more than just the ability to unintentionally upset some people, it also brings forth twelve punk tracks that are bursting with attitude and melodic aggression.
The cause of the problem was the content of the art work for the album with its depicting of the Holy Bible with the words “Holy Shit” in its place, its subtitle of The Poo Testament, and the stronger inner art; though the fact that the Canadians received a loan from FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings) was probably as much of an issue, once the finished product was seen. Living With Lions have subsequently returned the loan and responded to the issue by saying:
“The content of our artwork for our new recording was created out of our passion for satire and absurdist humor. The lyrical and musical content of this record does not contain any commentary on religion, nor does it use a pejorative or malicious voice against any particular group of people (excluding possibly some of our ex-girlfriends). When the idea came up to simply alter the artwork for HOLY SHIT without having to expedite the repayment to FACTOR, we chose to entirely return the money so that HOLY SHIT can forever remain true to the original format”.
“Holy Shit” is also the first release with new vocalist, ex-Misery Signals guitarist Stu Ross, as well as bassist Bill Crook once of A Textbook Tragedy. Since bursting onto the scene with debut EP “Dude Manor” in 2007 and the album “Make Your Mark” a year later, the band have spent the time gigging hard, so it is with great anticipation that after three years “Holy Shit” is released. Whereas the former releases were classed as pop punk, the new album has a harder and ballsier direct feel to it though it does not neglect the anthem like melodies vocally and musically that the group is known for. Living With Lions lie somewhere between the addictive hook loaded music of Billy Talent and the attitude soaked aggressive style of Social Distortion, sounding like neither but creatively holding elements both are famed for.
Tracks like the opener ‘Pieces, Maple Drive Is Still Alive’, and ‘Mathew’s Anthem’ are pure punk adrenaline, though that can be applied to the whole substance of “Holy Shit”. Direct and dripping attitude the songs remind of bands like Face To Face, but with a more sustained and intense delivery that is hard to not take great satisfaction from. Guitarist Chase Brenneman says about the album:
“These songs are all about real people and situations that we’ve had to deal with,” and continues with “It’s something people can definitely relate to on their own level.”
From these three songs alone it is hard to argue and throughout the release the sense of angst, frustration, and desire and more, openly permeates the lyrics and delivery.
Stand-out tracks include the single ‘Honesty, Honestly’, riding on a storming riff and incorporating a great catchy chorus, ‘Whatever You Want’ with its punchy guitars from Brenneman and Landon Matz, and arguably the best track ‘Wake Up’. The latter’s use of dual vocals in places works neatly, the cleaner backup delivery from Crook complimenting the rougher style of Ross, in verse as well as the usual chorus. The drums of Loren Legare drive the song well but again that is a truth that applies all through the tracks on offer.
“Holy Shit” is a good, solid, and at times, stirring album, and though possibly there is, at times, a familiar similarity to some of the tracks, overall Living With Lions have produced an album that will put many other punk albums into the shade.