Canadian hard rocker Julia Gentile, better known as Vilivant, is back after three years with her first full length album “Running on Empty”, following up the six song EP, “Never Again”. Pulling inspiration from bands such as Halestorm, Alter Bridge, Three Days Grace and The Pretty Reckless, Vilivant has created an album full of powerful vocals, badass guitar riffs and heavy drum beats. While staying true to the hard rock sound found within many modern rock bands, Vilivant adds her own spin to the genre, keeping things new and exciting for the listener. “Running on Empty” is an album you want to listen to from top to bottom, the eight tracks telling stories of heartbreak, feeling drained and finding yourself. The grittiness and power in her vocals showcasing the emotion attached to these experiences.
“In My Life”, a hard rocker with a melodic hint, opens the album with a bang. A seventies style intro starts off the track before kicking into a heavy beat with a chugging guitar and strong vocals. Remnants of early Halestorm are heard in the instrumentation and vocal melodies, however Vilivant keeps things original and new, using her influences to enhance the tracks instead of taking over them. The high energy continues with the second track, “Moving Forward”. The lyrical content describing someone who realizes their relationship is toxic and wants out, Vilivant takes a different approach to a break up song. “It’s time to end all the pain, because I’m moving forward and now we are done” she sings in the chorus, describing someone who’s taking control of their own life, ending the relationship.
Although the album stays strong from start to a finish, a few tracks that stood out to me are Comatose, Drown and the ballad that closes the record, Valleys. A George Lynch sounding guitar riff kicks off Comatose, bringing in a sense of nostalgia to the song. Powerful vocals are delivered perfectly by Gentile, utilizing the range she has within her voice, an 80s sounding guitar solo really bringing the track home. Switching gears into the somber Drown, programmed electronic sounding drums add a unique element to this hard rocker. Gentile roars with emotion throughout this track, making it my personal favorite on the album. The production on the album is superb, allowing every nuance to be heard. “Running on Empty” makes you reflect and each track is easy to relate to which makes the listening experience a complete journey. Closing out the album is the ballad, Valleys. A beautiful guitar melody is heard throughout the track that pairs perfectly with Vilivant’s haunting vocals, making Valleys the perfect song to close out with. It’s an interesting choice to end the album with a ballad, however it works perfectly for “Running on Empty”. It feels as though the story has come to a close, however, leaving you wanting a sequel.
The songwriting is consistent in each song on this album, taking you on a journey of experiences that are told with power and emotion. “Running on Empty” was definitely worth the wait and new and old fans will not be disappointed. Vilivant has created an album near perfection that is worthy of being played on repeat.