Jason Cruz - Vocals
Jake Kiley - Guitar
Rob Ramos - Guitar, Vocals
Chris Aiken - Bass, Vocals
Jordan Burns - Drums
Before I got this album, I had heard an MP3 of "Analog" and was relatively unmoved by it. However, I had also read a review of it which rated it 5 out of 5, so I approached it with an open mind. The thing is, "Twisted By Design" is quite possibly my favourite album of all time (hell, I'd want it played in it's entirety at my funeral!!!), and rumours that this new album was a total departure from their previous material had me rather worried. Thankfully these rumours are both true and false. They have updated their sound, as it is much heavier than before in places, but it is obvious at the first listen that this is still the Strung Out we all know and love.
1. ANALOG: When the heaviness kicks in after the olde style intro, it really hits you, and the song continues through a heavy-ass intro into a rly tuneful and catchy song, a bit like "Cemetery" off the last album but less high-pitched. I can't believe i didn't like this one to start with! It's great! And check out the amazing double bass drumming in the bridge!
2. BLUEPRINT OF THE FALL: This one has some pretty amazing lead guitar work, and the lyrics seem to hint at the events of 9/11 but not in a political way, more in a "how it's gonna affect the way we live way." Jason really shows intelligence in the lyrics, and as an added bonus, it is just as tuneful and catchy as the previous song, if not more so.
3. KATATONIA: This isn't quite as good as the last two tracks, although it is a bit heavier, has a more metal feel to it in the chorus. The riff throughout most of the song is addictive though.
4. HER NAME IN BLOOD: This is one of my favourite songs on the album, in fact of all Strung Out's songs! The guitars are tuned to C for this one, so it's even heavier than before. The lyrics are thoughtful and are about love without being soppy (an example most pop-punk bands should follow IMHO). The chorus is what the word "anthemic" was made for, it's one of those shiver-down-the-spine moments. And the riffs kick arse too!
5. ANGELDUST: A less heavier number this time, but still really good, and Jason really tests his vocal chords here, with the notes he reaches. This is one of the more tuneful offerings on the album, without being outright poppy, but is a bit of a grower, the sort of song you have to get used to.
6. LUCIFERMOTORCADE: What in God's name is this? Tis hardcore as feck! And not in a tuneful-hardcore like "Reason Too Believe" (off Twisted By Design) was! Heavy as hell with some cool drum fills and riffs, not to mention weird kinda Egyptian or Eastern sounding vocal melodies thrown in. The first real departure from their usual sound, but not an unwelcome one. Not bad, not bad at all!
7. VAMPIRES: I love the little guitar line that starts this one off. I can't explain how, but it's different from everything Strung Out have done before, but somehow retains that element of the band that is in all their songs. A really good song overall, and the lead work behind most of the vocals is cool.
8. NO VOICE OF MINE: You might have heard this one on one of the Rock Against Bush CDs, and if you did, you'll know its absolutely cracking.
Kinda reminds me of "American Paradoz" in terms of lyrics, and of the best elements of all their songs in terms of musicianship.
9. ANNA LEE: This is easily the poppiest song on the album, and as a result, is not one of the best, but it isn't so bad that it should be skipped. Ever. This kinda shows the standard of the CD as a whole doesn't it?
10. NEVER SPEAK AGAIN: I love the idea behind the lyrics to this song; the thought that if we couldn't speak there would be no reason for conflict or violence in the world, and no-one could insult or upset anyone. Thankfully this is also set to a cracking blast of metallic-punk, which has a really cool breakdown section.
11. SKELETONDANSE: I overlooked this one for some reason when I first got the album, but I soon realised my mistake. Its got some great riffs, and the tune kinda reminds me of "The Kids" off the AMERICAN PARADOX album. A really good song, but not really long enough IMHO.
12. SCARLET: Those bastards!!! Making us wait til right near the end of the album for the best track!!! Its worth the wait though, this has all the elements of the absolutely perfect song. It has fairly cryptic lyrics, cool tempo changes/transitions, amazingly tuneful vocals, and best of all, an absolutely amazing arse-kicking metal solo! What more could you ask for?!
13. SWAN DIVE: This song, as far as I can see, is lyrically about ex-bassist, the late Jim Cherry. It has a kind of depressing but at the same time uplifting feel, and is another poppy number (not a bad thing at all in this case). Another highlight!
14. THE MISANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE: This isn't the best ending to an album ever, but is still an above-average song, with some quite catchy tunes. It reaches what seems like an end, before going into a bit of an instrumental ending, similar to that of "Matchbook" off TWISTED BY DESIGN.
OVERALL: Not Strung Out's best album, but also most definitely not their worst. It definitely pisses all over all of the bad reviews I've seen of it since it's release (yeah, there were a few... poor misguided critic bastards...). The new heavier elements are a nice change, it seems Strung Out have upped the ante on the whole genre of punk, and to a large extent metal as well!!!
THE VERDICT: 4.5 OUTTA 5