Veni Vidi Vicious

The Hives

Warner Brothers 2002 -- Burning Heart Records/Epitaph 2000, 2000

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/21/2003

If ever the adages "timing is everything" and "patience is a virtue" needed a credible defense, one could easily summon the Hives' Veni Vidi Vicious release as proof.

Having initially released Veni Vidi Vicious on the Burning Heart label in 2000, the Hives and their label dutifully took to promoting their Stooges-inspired rock to a primarily Scandinavian and Western European audience. Mixing in a high dose of trendiness with an onstage black and white clothing ensemble, the Swedish quintet generated an escalating buzz in the underground music scene around the bratty and nasal vocals of their lead throat, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist.

With the singles"Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Main Offender" garnering most of the attention from the 12-track Veni Vidi Vicious release, the buzz paid off by way of a record deal with the United Kingdom label Poptones in 2001. Poptones promptly packaged a collaborative effort of previously recorded Hives tunes under the title Your New Favourite Band centering on those two Veni Vidi Vicious singles. From there, the "the timing" of the garage-punk sound of these two releases and the band's ability to win over a U.K. audience neatly coincided with the happening sounds from their soon-to-be rock savior contemporaries, the White Stripes and the Strokes.nbtc__dv_250

The major label Warner Brothers were awakened to the ruckus the Hives were creating overseas and stepped in to sign the band to a reported $12 million contract. The label revitalized Veni Vidi Vicious by way of a U.S. distribution deal and an assurance that the band would receive A-list treatment. And while Warner Brothers has essentially given the U.S. audience the perception that Veni Vidi Vicious was a one-trick pony with the single "Hate to Say I Told You So" being the only track they chose to promote, I can tell you that there are several other gems on this album worthy of one's attention.

For starters, "Die, All Right" could easily have been the song to break them because it is one of the most dynamic songs on the album. It's also the song that has Almqvist convincingly heckling record label management with the lyrics, "Sold my body to the company so/ I got the money now away I go/and I say thank you Mr. CEO." The spastic background vocals from guitarists Nicholaus Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem chanting "Die" and "All Right" on cue during the songs chorus highlight the lyrical darts that Almqvist tosses while belting out the song.

"Knock, Knock" is another number that hits the mark with a mixed-tempo arrangement that benefits from a striking guitar procession towards the end of the song. "Supply and Demand" and "Outsmarted" both share in the fact that the brattiness of Almqvist's lyrics takes center stage in a way that has come to symbolize the finer points of the band.

"Find Another Girl" is the song on the album that has the Hives experimenting with a background rhythm with a swaggering R&B vibe to it. As it turns out, it's a cover of a Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield track. How soul and R&B artists ever offered inspiration to the Hives is a wonder in itself, but anyways, this experiment is not a bad one per se. The thing this song accomplishes is breaking up the brashness and aggressiveness of the other tracks on the album. The fact that the song is positioned eight songs deep into the album keeps it from killing the overall punk vibe of Veni Vidi Vicious. And a punk album is unequivocally what this should be viewed as.

For an album that clocks in at just 28 minutes, the Hives have definitely provided an unconventional blueprint for success. Veni Vidi Vicious was a two-year slow burn project and an album that provides more in the way of mileage than most people might realize.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers 2002 -- Burning Heart Records/Epitaph 2000, and is used for informational purposes only.