Review Summary: The Living End overcome the 'second album' scenario and mix up their sound, with exciting results.
The Living End - Roll On
Chris Cheney - Vocals, Guitar
Scott Owen - Upright Bass, Backing Vocals
Trav Demsey - Drums
After the huge success of their debut album, The Living End felt they had something to prove. The Critics snubbed them as a 3 chord Pop-Punk band, The Punks wanted them louder and faster, whilst metal heads wanted the riffs crunchy and mean! So what did the band do? They took all this into consideration and made one hell of a rollercoaster ride.
The band state that they were young at the time and thought that the more tempo changes and the more technical the riffs, the better, and whilst they basically managed to pull it off, their second album isn't without its small flaws.
The album begins simple enough, and is almost the calm before the storm. 'Roll On' is a live and fan favourite, however it isn't the best way to get the feel of the album. The song chugs along like most anthem themed songs do, and the chorus does its job at getting everybody to stomp and yell out. Before you know it you get a nice short guitar solo that links the song all together and after another round verses and chorus’s the song ends. Pretty normal for an opening track and a decent enough first single but does nothing to prepare us for the rest.
After the next three songs we are still in familiar Living end territory but with some beefed up musicianship and harsher vocals. 'Pictures in the Mirror' introduces the backing vocals that have since become a trademark of the band, and 'Riot on Broadway' takes us back to fist pumping sing-along’s about everybody's favourite subject matter, Riots. We get our first taste that something is different during the middle section of the song. The song takes a break from his frantic energy and we get a nice reflective mellow section, before the song takes yet another twist and blasts us with an impressive guitar solo and jumps straight back into a verse before given a crowd shouted chorus the end the song.
'Carry Me Home' is the song that really kicks you in the groin and demands you take notice. The song is borderline heavy metal and the riff is just fantastic. Punk rockers will love the speed of this song, Metal heads will love the heaviness of the song and music critics will love the complexity and twists and turns the song makes. Oh, and pop rockers will love the sheer catchiness of it all. Simply put, this is the song that best sums up the entire album. From here on in the album will demand you attention, make you tap your foot, make you scream along and most of all, make you want to learn guitar and go crazy. The bridge is just as frantic as the intro and the song won't let you take a break until it's over.
As mentioned above, the album takes on a life of it's own from here on. Its' heavy, fast, relentless, and much more exciting than most that Australian rock has to offer. It can, however be a bit too much. There is no slower song to give you a break and the most you’re going to get is perhaps a soft interlude during one of the tracks. Now this wouldn't normally be a complaint, because the band is known to be energetic and not the greatest when it comes to laid back songs (See Modern Artillery), but when each and every song takes as many twists as they do, it can make the average music listeners head spin. For music critics (yup, 99% of sputnik) it isn't such a bad thing. The album will not grow thin after a few spins, and each listen is bound to show you something new. So if it's shout out fist pumping (Blood on Your Hands) or a heavy chorus (Killing the Right) to the downright weird (The bridge section of Astoria Paranoia) the album is going to have something to please all. You just have to realise that many songs may sound similar and that most will take frequent twists and turns when compared to the average rock song.
So how do we end an exhausting listen like this? Well the band hasn't forgotten it's roots, so they end with a good ol' fashioned Aussie pub song! The song is as simple as you can get. A basic drum beat and some basic guitar chords over some simple but catchy singing and the song speeds up and slows down when appropriate. This song is a live favourite and from that description it may not sound like much, but n, it is the subject of this song that makes the song such a damn fun song. For the Living End fans, this album is a must own, and after 8 years it still sounds as fresh today. For the casual listener they should probably start somewhere different, but by all means remember to come back and check this one, and for the people who believe the Living End are nothing but a pop rock band, they would be wise to check this one out as I’m sure they will love it. On that note, I would like to end with some lyric's from the albums closer 'Uncle Harry'.
"Oh Uncle Harry you’ve done it all again
You’re pissing in the bath every now and then
I caught you in the wrong place
I caught you out of line
I tell you not to do it
But you do it all the time
Do it all the time
Uncle Harry pissing in the bath
Whoa, pissing in the bath
Uncle Harry pissing in the bath
Whoa, pissing in the bath again"
-Carry Me Home
-Don't Shut The Gate
-Blood On Your Hands