All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell review by PVRIS

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  • Released: Aug 25, 2017
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.9 (16 votes)
PVRIS: All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell

Sound — 7
PVRIS are the brainchild of leadwoman/multi-instrumentalist Lynn Gunn (Lyndsey Gunnulfsen) and the equally multi-instrumental Alex Babinski (main guitarist) and Brian MacDonald (Jr., bassist).

"Heaven" is a gradual build into an overview of the album sound. This album features much more effected sounds than its predecessor White Noise and features far more pop elements (particularly arpeggiator usage) than ever before. However, both synthesizers and fretted instrument have their place under the sun alongside Gunn's improved and more refined vocal deliveries. "Half" shows brilliant interplay between the guitar lines and the samples/synths. "Anyone Else" is an exercise in contrasting syncopated patterns and general fun with rhythmic feel/groove, and "Nola 1" is as well, albeit to a lesser degree.

Production: this album was produced with slightly less reverb and more microphone clarity than "White Noise", and it serves the band well. Gunn's vocals shimmer more in "AWKOHAWNOH" than in "White Noise", where a combination of EQ and reverb (possibly mic fidelity as well) lead to the vocals being more in the mix; compare "My House" from White Noise to "No Mercy" for an example. There is also an overabundance of bass at times, particularly in "Nola 1".

Regarding "No Mercy", while the song's ideas are good, the mix leaves something to be desired. The song is meant to be some sort of headbanger, but the combination of parts within the wall of sound leaves no sonic breathing room and is aptly merciless; it could work better in a live setting than in the confines of a recording medium. The frequency range of that song is also smaller and cymbal clarity more wanting than most of the other tracks, particularly "What's Wrong" (the synth bass goes down towards the limit of human hearing, G# below piano keys, while the cymbals ring clear and high).

There are quite a number of post-song transitions, particularly following the first few songs. They give the album a generally more introspective, almost hypnotic feel in between songs and connect the pieces together.

"Same Soul" echoes "Mirrors" from their first album quite loudly, particularly in the verses and bridge. There is additional material in the song that differentiates the two ("Same Soul"'s chorus is most similar to "St. Patrick" in the antiphonal interplay between the instruments and the following vocals), but "Same Soul" and "Mirrors" are both in the same key and have similar feels, builds, and song structures. Listening to it alone a bit more, "Same Soul" gives off a bit more energy than "Mirrors" but still feels more formulaic than necessary.

"Separate" and "Nola 1" wrap up the album. The former is a piano, bass, and drum ballad and carries some general heaviness/weariness despite the sparse instrumentation and highly reverberant atmosphere. "Nola 1" is similarly minimalistic, not-as-similarly produced with less reverb, and, in stark contrast to most of their previous offerings, sounds more like a collaboration between the band's previous ideas and Richard Barbieri of Porcupine Tree fame.

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Lyrics — 9
A great amount of lyric material comes from the ongoing processing of the full body of emotions during and following the reception and touring of the previous album. "Separate" stands out in particular: "Clouded sheets of glass behind hazel eyes/stand in front of my sights blurring my life/And it pulls away the world from me but I don't mind/as long as it won't separate you from me I'll be fine"

"Same Soul" includes a chorus with clever wordplay: "I'm just a body that you used to know/I'm just somebody that you used to know/I'm just a body that you used to know". It may not be the most original phrase (think Gotye), but the wordplay is much appreciated. Overall, the lyrics, written as a conversation between Gunn and an undefined "you", is a welcome purge of negativity in the process of healing from life's wounds.

The album lyrics are rather repetitive in their execution ("Heaven"'s chorus is "You took my heaven away" and chunks therein), but the effect drives the therapeutic nature of the negative emotions expressed through music.

Overall Impression — 8
Since its initial branding as Paris, Massachusetts-based band PVRIS has evolved from the more riff-driven metalcore escapades of the "Paris" EP, the more dynamic approaches in "White Noise," the acoustic rearrangements as evidenced in "The Empty Room Sessions," and overall general life and touring experience, and has thus refined their sound palette and songwriting skills.

"AWKOHAWNOH" takes a far more pop-driven approach to song writing than its predecessors. Guitar is much less of a focus throughout the entire album, and songs "What's Wrong" and "Walk Alone" signal this change from guitar-driven ballads/mid-tempo songs like "Eyelids" and "You and I" to a more synth- and bass-heavy dynamic most drastically. As musicians first and foremost, such experiments with the instrumental balance may isolate some fans who preferred the "Paris" EP-era sound, but the album is by-and-large pleasant, and usually displays a great compendium of well-organized and unpretentious musical ideas.

Highlights (in album order): "Heaven", "Half", "Anyone Else", "Separate."

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14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This band is awesome. Ive gone from Periphery to Pvris as favourite band. Im just as surprised as all my friends but this band is worthy.
    Their first album was really good. To me, it was an example of pop music done right: uplifting, well arranged and produced, without losing the artistic integrity in the lyrics and compositions. Let's see how this one holds up.
    I'm not sure about the usage of "uplifting" in the context of the music and lyrics, but I agree on the other points
    I was just saying that their music is not boring. It has energy, even tough they dwelve into some bitter/dark themes sometimes(Like 'holy' and 'empty' from the first album), not that they write sappy happy songs. 
    White Noise was an incredible album, probably not a bad song on there and I'm usually a rock/metal fan but agree that this is pop music done right. This 2nd album so far doesn't quite live up to the last for me but it does have some strong songs. Shame they are terrible live though especially lately. I believe in an interview I heard that Lynn doesn't warm up before shows at all, where as I think she obviously should and maybe even leave the live guitar duties to a touring member/get a guitarist as I feel she could focus on her vocals more then. Not that I don't appreciate her input into the songs/guitar playing, just my two cents on it all.
    I definitely agree that White Noise is great, even now, and would put it closer to rock-infused pop. They definitely went towards the pure pop direction despite "No Mercy" (which would probably sound better live). Treated separately, it still sounds good, though the approach and journey through the album is definitely not the same. Tbh, I caught them earlier in the touring season and got a hat signed by all three of the main members, and they were the best-sounding band at the festival I attended. They've started devoting more time to having fun with the music, whether that comes through in reimagined drum parts, vocal lines, or even solos in the case of "Fire". I've listened to more recent live recordings, though, and Lynn sounds genuinely tired (beyond dropping the key of "You and I" 1/2-step down to Am). She's never sung the monotonic yelling in "Fire" the way she does in the album, but beyond that even, the vocal symptoms sound more like burnout than pure lack of warm-up, which is troubling in itself.
    You can clearly see she is exhausted here. I agree with you. this was a bad performance while they are a good band (live as well)
    MurphySanders7 · Sep 09, 2017 02:32 AM
    Why "don't" it belong here? It's one thing to dislike songs and bands for personal taste and musical merits; however, bands such as PVRIS have found a unique set of followers and have inspired more than just metalheads (and males for that matter) to pick up the guitar and other instruments, particularly with the offerings from the previous album. That is within UG's interests as a diverse guitar community. This album is a direct follow-up from said work, and while it's not nearly as invested in guitar work, it still has a decent amount. Furthermore, the motivic guitar ideas in "Half", for example, are memorable and well-thought-out. I think that's the mark of being aware of one's role in the context of a band, as well as that of a good songwriter (even if you don't like the execution of said ideas or dearth of guitar). I welcome thought-out responses.
    I'm actually pretty disappointed. I loved their last album, but this one sounds generic and barely memorable. Just my opinion ofcourse,  but i haven't been able to enjoy it, i remain bored
    Fair review; are there moments/songs that stick out for you, or is it all uniformly boring to you?
    Maybe Same Soul, but even that song. It's all pretty monotonous with quite standard beats and washed out sounds. Feels so uninspired to me.  Nothing makes me want to sing along or jam out, 
    Ha, I did mention that it really echoed a hybrid of "Mirrors" and "St. Patrick" so I guess I can understand that. This album is also a lot darker than "White Noise", so it's not like people can casually sing texts "don't need a metaphor for you to know I'm miserable" and sound like they mean it or are happy while singing along. This is a lot darker, and a lot less in the anger direction as White Noise was. I think they were a bit more straightforward in their approach to making interesting beats last time as well. Overall, AWKOHAWNOH is a lot more conventional rhythmically in many cases ("Anyone Else" being an exception), but they compensate through adding fills and textures. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but just my 2¢
    I usually like dark though, there's just nothing that captivates my attention on this record.  But yeah, tastes and colors