Review Summary: A decent album showing that Dope really do have potential as a band.
"This is Life."
...those are the words which Edsel Dope opens up his band's second studio album with. It's a decent album, showing improvement and growth from their first effort "Felons & Revolutionaries". The band itself, which has an ever-changing lineup, had its most members during the era of this disc - 6. The album also departs from the electronic/industrial sound the band had on "Felons & Revolutionaires" , although it is still presentin some songs.
The instrumentation on this record is nothing special...don't start listening to this disc expecting guitar solos and technical playing, its all relatively simple stuff. The hooks are what make this record what it is - almost every song here has a catchy riff or great verse and/or chorus that draws the listener in and before you know it, you are really enjoying this stuff. Edsel Dope isnt the best singer out there, but his vocals still work and hes really not that bad of a singer at all.
The album opens up with the hard-hitting "Take Your Best Shot". You already get the feeling that this record is different from the last when this song kicks in. The guitars are as heavy as ever and the chorus showcases Edsel's screaming ability. A solo might have been good here but the hook works great....its a good start to the album and a good song to get pumped up to. The next song and a single from this record is "Now or Never". It features a great chorus which gets you singing along and the Guitar work is catchy and works great. This is a standout track for sure.
"Nothing (Why)" keeps the record flowing well. While the song isnt special, its catchy like the others and keeps u listening. Edsel has some good screaming in this one as well as singing and the band compliments it well. Not much more to say on this one except that it keeps everything on the move. The next song, "Stop", explodes as Edsel screams "GO!" right after the song starts. The verses feature his singing while the chorus is heavy and has some hard-hitting guitar work. The song doesnt let up till its over and this shows that the band can put out some great songs to bang your head to. It flows right into the next track, "Thanks For Nothing". Its a fast paced song and the chorus really works well with it. The lyrics arent the best but the hook is what saves this one.
"Die MF Die" opens with some sampling before the heavy guitars kick and the song explodes into a head-banging fest. The lyrics here are the least mature on the record and might lead some people away from this song but personally I like it for how catchy it is. Edsel screams like a sychopath on this track and the band goes all out on thier instruments presenting a heavy yet effective song and single off the record. "What About..." features the Bass leading most of the song. Dope like to make the Bass heard in a lot of their songs and when it leads the hook well, it works great. The song features melodic verses and a great chorus. The guitars take the back seat to this one as the rhythm section rules the song. The middle of the song gets heavy and it proceeds to end where it began with the Bass.
A little girl telling her dad she wants to grow up to be a topless dancer opens up the next track, "Move It". I didnt find this song all that great, Edsel and the rest of the band try too hard to create another great hook and overall, it isnt successful....you have heard this already. A thunderstorm and weird guitar effect opens the track "Jenny's Cryin'". It has a dark feel and a fast-paced chorus but it isnt a standout track by any means.
After a streak of songs that repeat themselves in a way, the album regains its balance with the track "With or Without You". the song is very melodic and opens with a short piano piece before the Bass kicks in and leads the song, once again working great. Edsel sings his heart out on this one and it has a great chorus. The song flows very well and ends where it began with that great, effective Bass line. "Crazy" is a heavy track that has a squeaky guitar riff that goes throughout the song. Its catchy and gets you singing with Edsel, much like many other songs here.
Another single from the record, "Slipping Away" is a great one. It opens up with clean guitar and then the hook kicks in and keeps you listening. This is one of the track on the album where Edsel sings all the way through. The Bass and Drums keep the verses flowing well and the song ends where it started with that clean guitar riff. Finsihing the album, the track "March of Hope" doesnt let up from the moment the Guitar kicks in when it starts. The shouts from the backup vocals compliment Edsel well in the chorus and the song presents everything you have heard in this album in one final song and the album ends well as the song fades out.
The bonus track kicks in bit after "March Of Hope" ends. "You're Full Of ***" isnt really anything special and seems like a continuation of the last track, but the hook might appeal to some more than others. March of Hope would have been just a good way to end the record, this track wasnt necessary.
Overall, Life is a great record. As far as how the music sounds, it wasnt meant to be anything speacial or technical but it works great for what it is. Edsel and his band put out a great album that has a lot of hooks throughout and grows from what they presented in "Felons and Revolutionaries". The Guitar work is good even if there arent any solos here, the Bass is present in almost every song and even just as much as the Guitar at some points which is great as most nu-metal bands like to bury it under the Guitars. The Drums arent a standout here but they work good here along with the sampling in most of the songs and keep everything flowing well. The album loses its balance towards the middle but picks itself back up at some points with some great standout tracks here and there. Dope would go on to produce "Group Therapy" and "American Apathy" with their lineup reduced to 4 members instead of the 6 present here and they would continue to grow on the direction they took with this album. Life is a decent album showing that Dope really do have potential as a Band, and while its not the best nu-metal album out there, it works great for exactly what it is - catchy.