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There isn’t much difference in the basic feelings behind screamo and emo — it’s just two different ways of expressing the same thing: sadness. Tool managed to express their moodiness through atmospheric, esoteric metal, and Vaux, while they appear to be your average heavy metal band at first glance, display the same lyrical depth and acute emotion that Tool has been heralded for.

Lead singer Quentin Smith sounds like Chris Martin with ‘roid rage. His ire is barely contained in the opening songs off Vaux’s major label debut, Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice. “Cocaine James” ends in one prolonged scream, a scream so long that Smith’s rather lovely tenor must have been shot for days after performing. But Beyond Virtue is certainly not all surface anger. The sublimated sadness of songs like “A Simple Man,” and particularly “Never Better,” is powerful in its subtlety. “Is it still worth it?” Smith asks on “Never Better,” when “it never gets better.”

The complicated structure of most Vaux songs is due in large part to the set-up of the band: Vaux has three guitarists, Adam Tymn, Chris Sorensen, and Greg Daniels (who also dabbles in keyboard). With this fleshed out six-piece (the three guitarists along with drummer Joe McChan, bassist Ryder Robison, and Smith), Vaux has sonic depth to accompany the lyrical savvy.

Generally, metal bands have scary names like Slayer and Motorhead, but despite Vaux’s metal sound, this Denver band has effete Francophile leanings. The band was originally called Eiffel, but had to change their name when they learned a French band already had dibs on the name. It’s unclear how the band came up with “Vaux” (rhymes with “rocks”), but a quick Google search shows that the most famous Vaux is Calvert Vaux, a French landscape architect who helped design Central and Prospect Parks in New York City. This high culture link is further proof that this Vaux is helping blur the line between metal and art rock, one song at a time.

Vaux tour dates:

11/3, Philadelphia, PA (Pontiac)11/5, Atlanta, GA (Vinyl@Earthlink Live)11/6, Pensacola, FL (The Gutter Lounge)11/7, Houston, TX (Meridian)11/8, Dallas, TX (Gypsy Tea Room)11/9, Austin, TX (Emos)11/10, Odessa, TX (Roadhouse)11/11, Phoenix, AZ (Modified)11/12, West Hollywood, CA (Troubadour)11/13, San Diego, CA (Epicentre)11/14, San Francisco, CA (Bottom of the Hill)

Vaux official site