Release Date: March 10, 2023
Genre: Hard Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Independent The Canadian hard rock/alternative rock prodigy Julia Gentle -known professionally as Vilivant- has been making music since the age of three. She recently released her latest collection of music titled Running On Empty. It collects eight of Gentle's most striking music to date, and follows her EP, Never Again (2020). It's chock full of rock tunes that dabble in various sub-genres of the genre. Gentle's channels many of her influences, from Alterbridge, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Nine Ince Nails, Filter, Halestorm, and The Pretty Reckless into the album's eight tracks. Additionally, Running On Empty was recorded at Studio 21 Sound andproduced by Canadian music producer Sam Guiana, known for his work with heavier artists such as Silverstein, Like Pacific, Rarity, and Dead Lakes, to name a few.
"This album has been three years in the making. I started writing this right at the beginning of the pandemic and quite frankly, at the time, I didn’t know where I was headed in life. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Running On Empty came about when I started doubting myself big time, as well as having zero energy to do anything about it. The last three years were brutal, but I slowly started pulling myself out of the quicksand and started writing again. I wanted to make something relatable - and I feel this LP best expresses that," Julia Gentile explains about her debut album.
The album opens with the stellar track "In My Life." A heavy, hard rock number is filled to the brim with massive guitar riffs, chugging guitars, and guitar solos to boot. The track is reminiscent of female-fronted rock bands like Dorothy, with so much originality from Gentle that it stands as her own. Gentle's powerful vocals throughout "In My Life" have the song transcend to another universe and makes the opening track an instant stand out right out of the gate. Things slow down a little bit with the second track, "Moving Forward," but with the project's title track, "Running on Empty," Gentle absolutely belts to open the song up. As the song develops, the influence of The Pretty Reckless bubbles right up to the surface. The song's chorus is one of the most infectious on the whole album, and there's some kind of pop influence intertwined with the song's arrangement. "Comatose" is an absolute sleeper among these brand-new tracks heard on Running On Empty. Changing things up entirely, "Comatose" opens with a massive heavy metal-esque guitar riff, which even uses pinch harmonics on the guitar. Overall, the tune is very hard rock with elements of heavy metal. Some elements in the song's bridge remind me of parts of songs on Avenged Sevenfold's album Nightmare (2010). The empowering rock anthem "Drown" may be a straight-to-the-point rock number, but it's the message within the song that makes it as big as it feels. Additionally, the amalgamation of influences on Running On Empty is utter insanity because there are so many different ones. Tracks like "Stuck" got these huge rock influences and elements tucked into it, then suddenly you get these sudden, quiet H.I.M-like piano arrangements mixed in. It's apparently on every single track, but with a few tracks it's more apparent than others. Then there are songs on the album, such as "Valleys," that showcases a straight influence from The Pretty Reckless.
Running On Empty was a project created out of a determination for Gentle to get out of a rut -a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Overall, a majority of the tracks and its title reflect just that, but the album's songs cover themes of heartbreak, feeling drained, pressured, and coming into one's self. Running On Empty was written throughout the pandemic, and it was also written during a part of Gentle's life when she was still figuring herself out. Backed by a very unfamiliar and unprecedented time, it didn't help her figure herself out easily. The powerful eight tracks, along with their emphatic messages, resulted in a substantial showing for Gentle and let her release a set of tracks that were immensely relatable to many listeners.