Review Summary: In my opinion, A Wilhelm Scream is the epitome of what punk rock, when fused with the right amount of metal, a splash of hardcore, and a crapload of melody, is truly capable of. While the pace is borderline relentless, and some listeners may not be able t
OK, this is my first review, so please bear with me.
A Wilhelm Scream is, pretty much without a doubt my favorite band. However, I am going to attempt to be as unbiased as possible, and just judge the music in the grand scheme of things, assuming it wasn't these guys, but some no names from my home town or something.
A Wilhelm Scream has mastered the art of making punk music more than straight up 4/4 rhythms, nothing but 8th notes, and repetetive vocal melodies. The two guitar players (Trevor Reilly and Chris Levesque on the original recording) compliment each other nearly perfectly. While some people may say that dual leads is overdone, these guys have a way of doing it very, very well. The fact that they often have 2 dualling guitar harmonies, plus sometimes a bass harmony or counter melody, plus as many as 3 vocal parts, makes their musically complex beyond that of almost any strictly punk band. The way that the band changes times, stops on a dime, and changes things up can make it a daunting task for some listeners just looking to tap their feet, but it makes the album interesting every time you listen to it. The addition of the new bass player, Brian, has added a whole new dimension to AWS's music that wasn't there in their previous two efforts. If you listen to the first verse of "The Horse" or the bass break in "Jaws 3, People 0" without your jaw dropping, then you need to either get your hearing checked, or learn to appreciate bass as an instrument. Nick Angelini's drumming is always insistent, intense, and pressing. However, while he has his share of the "Typical Punk Beat" here and there, his drumming compliments the guitar work in all the right places, and he never seems like a one trick horse, capable of only one beat (like, as much as I love him, Smelly from NoFx). Nuno's vocals consists of a far above average growling singing voice. He switches the pitches of the yelling enough to keep it from sounding like a hardcore band playing at double speed. The harmonies that Trevor and Brian offer are also superbly tasteful, and add a whole new dimension to almost all of the songs. Without a doubt, top to bottom, one of the most talented punk bands out there. While most bands will have a good bass player and subpar everyone else, or a crazy good drummer, every member of AWS is truly a master of his craft, and they mesh together nearly perfectly. Even the new guitar player, Mike, joined the band and just fit like a glove into the perfect foundation he added to.
While the lyrics certainly take a back seat to the music when you're listening, AWS certainly has a lot to say, and they word it very well. Like their earlier albums, Nuno and Trevor have written some very good poetry that happens to be set to bad ass music. "I Wipe My Ass with Showbiz" is a great commentary on modern music, selling out, and basically takes a big dump on the whole "Scene" right now. "The Horse" uses the metaphor of a race horse to parallel a man who is just being used for someone else's goals. "We Built this City (On Debts and Booze)" tells a tale of falling into the patterns of everyday, 9-5 life. In fact, a lot of the album seems to tell a story about a man who has just gotten stuck in a rut with his life. Here are a few of my favorite lines from the album, and give a basic idea of the kind of lyrical artistry these guys have.
"I stared at Heaven through the gates of Hell / Loved the weather couldn't stand the smell / Yet still I spill out razors from my bitter eyes"
"How I tried to buy my soul back / But the devil bent me over for it / Got me curled up in the shower scratching the letters that read / "Dear Mother, I sold my soul for management""
"Backpedaling and preaching like you're putting out a fire / You practice your pleasentries while you're draped over the wire / Pardon me, thanks a lot"
In my opinion, A Wilhelm Scream is the epitome of what punk rock, when fused with the right amount of metal, a splash of hardcore, and a crapload of melody, is truly capable of. While the pace is borderline relentless, and some listeners may not be able to fully appreciate the complexity and musicality that the band offers, it is still worthy of at least a chance by every fan of anything heavier than Iron & Wine. If you like Rise Against, Strike Anywhere, or The Swellers, chances are you will love A Wilhelm Scream.