Four Year Strong
Rise Or Die Trying


2.5
average

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
September 21st, 2007 | 53 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Self-styled 'happy hardcore' upstarts aim for the jugular but wind up choking themselves.

The pop punk scene’s worst kept secret for well over a year now, Four Year Strong's retrofit take on the now mega-successful and mega-formulaic Decaydance Records sound probably won’t be compared too often with “extreme” power metallers DragonForce- and why would it? on the surface the bands are nothing alike- but the pair’s working ethos are very similar: they take the generic genre blueprint, in this case roughly encompassed by Fall Out Boy, and take it to the extreme. If the aforementioned bands represent modern hardcore tailored to fit the Blink/New Found Glory pop punk model, then Four Year Strong have wrung the hardcore/thrash influence for all its worth, punctuating their songs with metalcore breakdowns, dynamic interplay between clean and screamed vocals, and (relatively unique to the genre) a drummer whose penchant for double-kick extravagance could actually earn him a gig with DragonForce: in short, Four Year Strong are extreme popcore.

The band have their own, slightly more sympathetic, name for it. Describing their sound as “happy hardcore,” Four Year Strong’s message is clear: they’re here to take over the world, but most of all they’re here to have fun. Similar in sentiment to Fall Out Boy’s own “we’ve arrived” statement, ‘Thriller,’ ‘The Takeover’ kicks the album off with the confidence of kings, fading in with church bells and air raid sirens before gang vocals announce, “start the takeover/this is your last warning/our time has come and we’re going straight on ‘til morning.” Musically, it’s more reminiscent of AFI’s intro piece ‘Miseria Cantare’; but from there such lightweight influences are generally eliminated, emerging only sparingly, for the sunny Sherwood-like melodies of should-be single ‘Catastrophe’ and the synth-led pop intros (a la Motion City Soundtrack) of ‘Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated’ and ‘Abandon Ship Or Abandon All Hope.’

Sound-wise, Four Year Strong are just as extravagant. Like the majority of their genre companions, their production style is unashamedly slick and polished, but also brutally overbearing. Layers and layers of sound are slapped on like a clown would apply face paint; even highlights like ‘Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated’ are kitchen sink affairs, with multiple harmonised guitar tracks winding between synths, drums and two interlocking vocal tracks, each tuned and multi-tracked beyond all reason. The singers both sound impressive, but it’s difficult to conclude that the heavy-handed approach to the vocal tracking is anything but a crutch to compensate for poor technique, and like a lot of other aspects of the band’s sound, the effect wears off far too quickly. Once again, the lesson is clear: other bands did it first, and other bands do it better.

The constant namedropping is unfortunate but unavoidable: Four Year Strong’s influences are obvious and easy to pick out, perhaps even intentionally so, as little effort seems to have been made to distinguish many features from their parent company: Dan O’Connor’s vocals frequently recall Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and Panic! At The Disco’s Brendan Urie- mainly the latter, since he doesn’t quite possess Stump’s range and technique- and the winding, conversational chorus lines of ‘Bada Bing Wit’ A Pipe’ and ‘Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die’ are particularly reminiscent of Urie’s style. The tracks mentioned thus far are the clear highlights of the album. The quality of the album’s eleven songs doesn’t vary dramatically, but neither does the content: those mentioned just happen to be more well-written and, perhaps just as crucially, are mostly packed to the front. The album as a whole doesn’t flow well; the tracks are so similar that the smart listener would simply disregard the second half and play the first half twice for a much better experience.



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user ratings (690)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Josh Howe (4)
Fun, Catchy, and incredibly enjoyable. The way Pop-Punk is supposed to be....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Flagjacket
September 21st 2007


15 Comments


Decaydance Records signs hardcore bands? Since when?

Album was solid pop punk.


ValiumMan
September 22nd 2007


493 Comments


Awesome review. This sounds like an overdone genre exercise.

TheStarclassicTreatment
September 22nd 2007


2910 Comments


I've seen that summary before, on you're 'Lead Sails' review...
Still, awesome review, as always.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2007


2713 Comments


lol @ track 7's title.
Rockin' review.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2007


16089 Comments


First paragraph is a little wtf and confusing. Pretty sure there is a missing capital letter as well.
But yeah Four Year Strong really suck. lol @ calling themselves "happy hardcore"

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2007


16089 Comments


Eh.
"- and why would it? on the surface the bands are nothing alike-"
Still need some caps there I think. I'll look it up I guess.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2007


16089 Comments


Well I don't know, it seems like you're ending the sentence there with the question mark. Never quite seen it done like that without sticking the question marked item in a parenthesis or something.

ToWhatEnd
September 23rd 2007


3172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Aren't these guys on I Surrender Records?

Iai
Emeritus
September 24th 2007


3553 Comments


I was hoping this would be an actual happy hardcore album.

DWittisarockstar
September 24th 2007


1501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed with Iai. This is pretty average so far.

Iai
Emeritus
September 24th 2007


3553 Comments


Happy hardcore is the best party music ever.

OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS OONTS


Pyramidman
September 25th 2007


1340 Comments


Wrecked him? is soooooooooooo good

I'm really digging this cd right now

c0nf1n3d
September 27th 2007


288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought the band was intresting. They reminded me of Fall Out Boy, but with breakdowns.

Nice review.

PhoenixRising
October 2nd 2007


277 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is straight up pop-punk tring to be more than what it is. Happy hardcore my ass...

ToWhatEnd
November 4th 2007


3172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What I've heard off of this is lol funny at some parts just because of how ridiculous the extremes are. But I can imagine them being pretty fun live.

LoveTheEndless
November 15th 2007


55 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

My roommates love this band and I can't stand them.

Exile29
December 5th 2007


168 Comments


I have to say that I have never heard a band quite like this, but I actually like them.

WeLikeTheMoon62
February 24th 2008


11 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like this album. I also like that they gave it to me for free. I find the breakdowns to be quite sick, myself. But whatever floats your boat, i guess.

Johnc1151
March 2nd 2008


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's weird. I read your review and it makes a lot of sense to me.

And at the same time, this CD has gotten a LOT of playtime for me. It's semi-infectious and I'm okay with that.

twiik
April 28th 2008


30 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listen to a few tracks (mainly track #7) as a breather from the heavier music I listen to, and reminds me of my pop-punk days.



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