Strung Out
An American Paradox


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
August 23rd, 2005 | 48 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Strung Out
An American Paradox

Remember when bands were allowed to mix punk, hardcore, and metal and there weren't a bunch of uneducated idiots mislabeling it "post-screamocore?" I do. Bands like Grade and Strung Out were mixing the aggression of hardcore and the catchy melodies of punk while members of Hawthorne Heights were learning algebra. Strung Out, a current Fat Wreck band, has a particular metal tinge that gives them another edge that Grade didn't have. It brings technicality into the music and it's the musical development that allowed Thrice and The Fall of Troy to exist. Their old releases, which were more youthfully punk, inspired bands that were shamelessly ripping them off. With the climate of melodic hardcore changing drastically, Strung Out pulled an odd move and copied a lot of the bands that were initially ripping their style. They added a darkness to their sound that hadn't existed before. They moved towards more minor keys and songs like "Razor Sex" and "Kill Your Scene" instead of remembering the days of the major keys of "Crossroads" and "Support Your Troops." While it would be unwise for some bands to move with the fads, and Strung Out definitely maintains a lot of their trademarks, Strung Out excelled with this new sound, and proved that anything their imitators can do, they can do better (except Thrice. Thrice is marginally better.). So enters An American Paradox: hardcore in appearance, metal on the mind, but punk at heart.

A given with Strung Out is solid instrumentals. These guys have been playing for years and are pretty sick at their craft. Often punk bands purposefully stay sloppy over the years, but Strung Out's style has forced them to get better. The guitar solos and general riffing are superb. There's a good variety of sweet background stuff as well as distorted foreground stuff. The inclusion of octaves is tastefully done and is a staple of most Fat bands. In Strung Out's case, this styles complements the faster pace of the riffing. The harmonics change often, which is fun and brisk during major key moments and almost brutal during minor key moments, especially on "Razor Sex" and "UnKoil." The bass is good as usual but is comparatively generic. It mimics a lot of other punk bands by playing the root note and then throwing in fills to merge root notes together. It's definitely above par but they're not pioneering anything here. The drumming is sick. Incredibly tight and fast. He is very clean for being a fast, punk drummer. The breakdowns are well done because it's not just the typical double-bass stuff metalcore bands do. The breakdowns here show influences of punk and in the end seem different because Strung Out isn't a hardcore band.

The songwriting on this album is top notch, definitely better than any album in the past. There is a specific trade-off at hand; by losing the amazingly catchy anthems of their punk past, they acquire a mode of bittersweet songs not unlike AFI or even emotional hardcore bands like Funeral Diner. It's definitely nice to hear Strung Out writing good songs on a completely different wavelength. Sure, songs like "Satellite" and "Contender" hearken back to older Strung Out songs, but this CD is dominated by elements of death and aggression. This isn't the cheesy fare of a death metal band like Cryptopsy, but more the maturation of a long-standing band. The political lyrics aren't "Fuck the Man" like some are with punk bands are the emotional lyrics aren't "Black my heart and cross out my whatever" like with some pop punk bands. There is room for political unrest and angst on this album because it is not saccharine and whiny, but respectable and reasonable. It all fits perfectly with the tight musicianship and nicely crafted songs.

On a final note, though technically this album rules, it also grabs me in an inexplicable way. Its mix of candor and melodic superiority produces songs that have countless moments that just get me in that special way. This is a matter of bias more than anything else but I can't help thinking that other people feel the exact same way. I dig Strung Out's new groove. I hope you will too.

Recommended Tracks: Velvet Alley, Contender, Razor Sex



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other reviews of this album
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American Paradox might not be new. It wasn't totally fresh and original when it was released. Howeve...

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...


Comments:Add a Comment 
br3ad_man
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


2125 Comments


Strung Out are ok. I remember Tangy telling me he's seen them about 6 times.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's because they rule. I still haven't seen them live. It's on my list. So is With
Honor, Murder by Death, Between the Buried and Me, and I dunno. Other bands.

EDIT: And GlassjawThis Message Edited On 08.23.05

br3ad_man
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


2125 Comments


Didn't you see BTBAM with The Red Chord?

guns_of_brixton
August 23rd 2005


5 Comments


I have a sudden desire for modern hardcore so I may download this. Thanks.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=breadman]Didn't you see BTBAM with The Red Chord?[/quote]

No man, I had to work that night. I've been working for 10 straight days for 8+ a day. This was my last day. I'm done for the summer.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=guns_of_brixton]I have a sudden desire for modern hardcore so I may download this. Thanks.[/quote]

Get ready for something that ain't modern hardcore. I said the band was hardcore by appearance: harsh vocals, occasional breakdown, heavy guitar, etc. They're still punk. Consequentially they also rule.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 23rd 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They're all great though. This is my favorite on whim I guess. It's a personal classic.

DesolationRow
August 23rd 2005


833 Comments


Great review. Not my cup of tea though.

Happymeal
August 23rd 2005


330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is one of my favorite albums, and "Velvet Alley" is one of my all-time favorite songs. It just gets me pumped up every time. Nice review D.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 24th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Same here! "Velvet Alley," "The Decline," "Knife Party," and some others make up my top 10 songs ever.

Tenfootbrett
August 24th 2005


149 Comments


This is SO's best album, I think. Exile in Oblivion was excellent too, and their oldies ... some of them are just unbelievable. But Paradox was fucking insane.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 24th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I still think hearing "Support Your Troops" for the first time has the ability to convert a nu-metaler or indie kid to punk on its own. It's such a great song in trms of catchiness and it has a triumphant vibe to it.

SlappedByTheClash
August 25th 2005


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In my younger days, I used to love Strung Out. Then I hated them for a while, then about 2 months ago I started loving them again.


Get Their Live In A Dive Album too, it's worth it just for the cover of Bark At The Moon.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 25th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have their Live in a Dive. It's pretty fun. I've never actually caught them live.

CushMG15
October 9th 2005


1802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yea, definately a good disc. Took me awhile to sit down and listen to it tho, for some reason. I say its tied with Twisted by Design for my second fav. Exile In Oblivion owns me.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
October 9th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For me Exile in Oblivion was just a "dark" expansion on the ideas presented in An American Paradox, which is sorta dumb. Good songs but they could be better.

CushMG15
October 9th 2005


1802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i can see where you're coming from on that, as its much darker. but i think thats just them progressing musically. Thats what I love about strung out, they are yet to not mature/progress with the release of each album. Everything is always fresh.

spoon_of_grimbo
November 28th 2005


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is an amazing album, except the best track that they recorded for it got left off, and only put on the first 1000 or so copies. its called "don't look back." theres a live version of it on live in a dive, but u can download the original.

these are in my top 3 bands along with alkaline trio and children of bodom.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
November 28th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Could you IM them to me?

Shattered_Future
November 28th 2005


1541 Comments


How is this album compared to, say, The Element Of Sonic Defiance? Because I rather like the latter...great music on that one.



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