Review Summary: Seriously, this isn't nearly as bad as you've heard!
First of all, I'd like to say this album gets way more *** than it deserves. This is right in the transition of Alkaline Trio into the main stream, and I feel like people wrote this album off before really diving into it. It is poppier than previous efforts, true, but that doesn't mean it isn't well written. Hear me out before you give this album a 2/5.
It starts out with Time to Waste. What a classic. The intro is eerie and somber, eluding to Alkaline Trio but in a different style than they had in earlier albums. My one complaint is this takes at least 4 people to pull off live and they are, after all, the Alkaline TRIO, so that's a little odd. But it goes right into a nice driving verse with all the power of a "Private Eye" and a chorus as catchy as From Here to the Infirmary work, without losing it's edge. Well written, powerful. Not the greatest lyrics, but hey, I'm in it for music first and foremost, lyrics come last in my book. 5/5
Now, I think Poison is the lowest point of this album. It's an over used riff, and you can tell it was written by Dan. I don't know, this is one of Dan happier sounding songs, and I don't think he does it well. The vocal melody is kinda boring, the music is boring, and its just not very interesting at all. 2/5
Bleed brings the CD back up to the high standard Time to Waste opened with. Simple riff, yes, but call me a sucker for Flange and Reverb, cuz I just like what they did between that, and the nicely toned deep bass riff underneath. The almost dance feel to the drum beat gave it a very funky feel, into a nicely timed chorus. Matt's vocal melodies are typically much more interesting and catchy to me than Dans, though Dan does he have his moments, and this is one of Matt's high points because he manages to make a mostly basic and simple riffed song and turn it into something that I can't help but sing along to. Good job Mr. Chainsaw. I dare any of you to not sing along with the last minute or two of this song. Changes just enough to make it interesting and it sure is catchy and fun without being bubble gum fluff. 5/5
Now Mercy Me is classic Alkaline in my opinion, because if you go along with the lyrics, it's your typical Skiba depress-fest. But, he manages to attach it to this mythically upbeat depression-pop that works so well for a few people. And he seems to have mastered it. It seems to fit so well as a single. Very happy sounding, while at the same time, it really isn't. (See "God Bless catastrophy.") I think this would fit with pretty much any other alkaline album, with the exception that this is mixed much better. 4/5
Death Bed is just kind of okay. It doesn't wow me. It's got a nice sing-along verse. Nice little pop-punk 5-strum-stop riff that I've heard before (maybe not in that order), but it IS pleasing to the ear. Nothing too special though. I'd never be excited to hear this, but I wouldn't ever ask you to turn it off. 3/5
Stained in Satin I think is very under estimated. The tones and riff scream old school, coupled with the slight synth in the background of most of the song. It shows they are branching out in styles at least a little and points to new things to come. Dan comes out of his shell a little with this one, though I think the EQ on his voice is a little off. It's a little boxy sounding. It's a good song, not fantastic, but a solid effort. 4/5
Sadie is kind of a sucker song for me. Though, in all honestly, I liked the version they did on the split with One Man Army better. I think on the album version they went a little too heavy with the synth. But I like the riff over top the rhythm guitar. Though, this is another one of those songs that requires 4 people to play live (as a matter of fact, most of the album does. Not the best idea. But whatever, this is about the album, not about their live performance). The topic of the song is very interesting and personally, I love to hear a singer tell a story rather than talk about themselves. I can only listen to you talk about your ex girlfriend for so long, so Matt telling a story about a woman who killed because she though God told her to makes me respect him, that he would cross into that sort of story teller mode when writing a song. 5/5
Fall Victim is another solid song on Crimson. I think the highlight of this song is the drums. The little snare rides he does in the pre-chorus are just great. I always thought their drummer was a solid addition to the band, and his lines are always a stand out point to the Trio. Skiba keeps it interesting enough to grant my attention in this, although Dan kind of blends into the background in this song. His bass lines do little to nothing other than root notes, and he only harmonizes sparingly. But solid song, catchy and fun. 4/5
I Was a Prayer is weird. I haven't researched this, but it kind of sounds like someone is playing a baritone? Either way, it's a good song, but it has weird moments. That guitar stick line they have is kind of... forced almost. Like it doesn't really belong. Dan does a solid job on the melody, though the guitars, as typical on Dan songs, could use some spicing up. It always seems like Matt-vocaled songs have much more productions, much more layering, and much more care put into them. Dans songs are very stripped down and basic. Personally, being around a lot of music production, I think it's there for a reason, and if done right, sounds amazing. This songs just comes in ok, and has nothing to really write home about. 3/5
Prevent This Tragedy is so catchy I can't help but love it. It's that awfully depression-pop again, but Matt hits the hammer on the head whenever he does it. With the Glide in the vocals occasionally, I like to see him experimenting with what he can do vocally. Simple guitar, but the choise synth makes it never bore the listener, and the very nicely harmonized and layered vocals give you the push to just want to sing along about "children wishing they were safely under ground." Oh Matt, you rogue. 4/5
Back to Hell is just a fan-damn-tastic song. Lots of energy, great melody, great swell intro, great drums, just great song. (you knew where I was going with that.) The drums give it a very pensive feeling into a catchy-as-hell chorus that just has a great energy and feel to it, going back and forth between Dan and Matt in a clever and fun way that just has me groovin'. Instant classic. I feel like this song gets looked over because it's buried deep in the CD, but this is well worth the wait. 5/5
Another really good, catchy, sing-your-self-silly song comes in next with Your Neck. Adding the little piano keeps the sound a little different than past Alkaline, but it still has a very old school feel. Cut and catchy chorus that sounds happy until the last line which leaves you hanging. Very Matt Skiba. They also do a nice little key change just to give it a little flavor. I can't help but like this song. It's not overly complicated, but if you're looking at Alkaline Trio, you aren't looking to have your mind blown with music theory. 4/5
Smoke is a little different than your typical alkaline ending song. It's very produced, though I love the sound they achieved in this song. Between the bass, that guitar stick riff, and the synth strings they had. I think this is one of Dan's strongest appearances vocally on any Alkaline Trio album. I think they kept this song extremely interesting and I was always wondering where they were going with it. I loved the effects, different guitar sounds, and overall feel of the song. Very new ground for Alkaline Trio, but I can see the progression to this type of sound. 5/5
Overall? Not their best, but definitely not nearly as bad as many of the people make it out to be. I think it has some extremely well written songs. Like I said, I wish they didn't have to be restricted to 3 people by calling themselves a Trio, because you can feel the urge to branch out and be more creative with their music, but are burdened by the simple technicality of a name. I liked it, you will probably disagree with me, but that's okay.
m/ Diggitz m/