Review Summary: It's catchy and motivating as hell! I mean, there's an exclamation mark in the name and a giant robot on the cover!
The counterpart to my immense love for music is my immense love for film. My avid cinephilia has existed since childhood and for the longest time, I’ve maintained an aspiration to become a film director. That being said, I personally believe that there are two types of movies people enjoy. The first is the typical action movie or dirty comedy that gets cranked out annually by the masses. It may be nothing groundbreaking or insightful; it might even be cliché. But it is adrenaline pumping or fun enough to maintain your enjoyment and satisfaction, almost guiltily. These are the movies that win honors like the Teen Choice Awards. The other type is that of movies that are introspective, original, and groundbreaking, enough to garner major critical acclaim. These are the movies that win true honors like the Academy Awards. And with that analogy, I must half-regretfully say that the debut of (more or less) melodic hardcore band Take It Back! fall into the category of the former. But remember, that still means it's enjoyable!
The first track “Standing on the Edge of Hope” hits you immediately with an incredibly catchy guitar hook, giving a perfect example of what this band is about. Zach McKim brings in his raspy yet melodic shout/singing complimented by the persistent playing of the rest of the band members. Aside from the more than competent wielding of their instruments, these other members provide some great backup vocals including the ever-necessary gang vocals.
“Together, Burning Bright!” is yet another catchy song that plays like a Set Your Goals track; mainly because secondary vocalist Nick Thomas makes his first major appearance in the album and he sounds exactly like Matt Wilson from Set Your Goals. But it also has somewhat of an upbeat pop-punk feel, especially with the dualing vocals between Zach and Nick. The two create a nice balance between each other, much like…dare I say Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge formally of Blink-182. And balance again is also rampant amongst the other members creating a positive feel to the song. There is even a nice inspiring synth section in the middle of the track that builds into a climactic finish.
With these tracks alone (and maybe even the ridiculous album cover), you can see that this band plays some majorly optimistic and upbeat music. Perhaps because they are a Facedown band? Yes, that’s right, but I’m not going to trip balls and judge over any band’s religion whether or not I agree with them. In any case, these guys in no way attempt to pulverize Christianity upon its listeners, but instead provide universally positive messages that can easily apply to anyone.
There is a rather digressive moment however, found in what is by far the heaviest track on the record, “A Struggle to Stay Standing.” As the longest track on the album, it drives at a moderately slow tempo with the most brutal of Zach and Nick’s vocal attack. There are no fancy guitar hooks, but rather heavy riffage and dense chord attacks. It’s somewhat disappointing however, that with this different style, I find it to be one of the weaker tracks on the album.
Nonetheless, the album continues moreover with continuously catchy tracks. “Light This Town” starts will a single guitar riff at mid-tempo, subdued under the tenor singing of McKim, very reminiscent of Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys. Josh Huskey on drums cues in the rest of the band leading into yet another catchy riff, one that almost has the feel of the Batman theme to it (not as ridiculous as I’m making it sound). Then things calm down and a lonesome piano plays a tune giving way for much cleaner singing vocals. Then, what happens? Correct, all the instruments come back and the gang vocals commence, making for an epic conclusion.
As enjoyable as that song was, it leads to why I started my review the way I did. Many of these songs are rather predictable and unoriginal. Talent is absolutely not a problem for this quintet, nor is songwriting ability. They had me tapping my feet and bobbing my head into arthritis. It seems this band drives heavily on music that will most definitely leave you tossing your chair across the room and moving and singing along with the band. There will be plenty of fist-raising, mic-grabbing, hell even two-stepping…all in a feel-good manner. They maintain the influences of prominent acts such as Comeback Kid, Dogwood, and Rise Against, as well as more mainstream acts such as Pennywise and Blink-182.
But in the end, you realize that this was fun and enjoyable in the moment and the surrounding cliché or predictable aspects were forgettable…like the majority of summer blockbuster movies. It is nothing I haven’t heard before. And as the last song ends, I was nowhere near as satisfied as I would have been had I heard something so refreshingly great, beyond the aspect of momentary satisfaction. With much heavier and much better, albeit equally catchy hardcore albums releasing this year such as those of Have Heart, Blacklisted, Verse, and Killing the Dream, Take It Back! cannot help but fall victim to the shroud of mediocrity and eventual forgetfulness. This is nowhere in contending for the musical Oscar equivalent, but it is something fun to get you moving whilst in a liberated and boundless mood.