Review Summary: A great compilation that spans Strung Out's entire career. Defintely worth getting, even if you're a casual Strung Out fan.
Strung Out is one of the most talented bands in punk rock. Even in their pop punk days back in the 90's, Strung Out was known for difficult and complex guitar solos, bass lines and drum beats. Jason Cruz is also known as one of the most versatile singers in the genre, being able to scream and howl and still be able to pull off melody. I guess its pointless to tell you guys this, since most of you die hard fans already know this.
Prototypes and Painkillers is a compilation album, a collection of B-sides, demos, songs on Fat Wreck compilations and even some unreleased stuff. It was released a little before their critically acclaimed Agents of the Underground. Although this is merely a compilation album, I would defintley say this is worth picking up if you love Strung Out, or are even just a casual fan.
What's nice about this compliation is that it spans Strung Out's history, from their weakly produced songs from the early 90's to their refreshingly melodic late 90's music to their experimental hardcore/metal sound in the early 2000's. So if you're a fan of Strung Out's older stuff or just a fan of all their styles, then this compilation is defintely satisfying.
Prototypes and Painkillers contains "Don't look Back", a fan favorite that failed to make it onto all the copies of An American Paradox. It also contains "Novella" and "More Than Words", which were bonus tracks on Black Hawks Over Los Angeles. The Crossroads and Illusions EP from 1998 is half represented on the compilation, containing the fan favorite "Barfly" and "Ghost Town." Even the often forgotten 30 second song "Klawsterphobia" from Fat Wreck's Short Music for Short People made it on here.
Some songs are quite interesting. 'Night of the Necro" and "Novacain" sound like they would fit perfectly on the 1998 classic Twisted by Design. "Pleather" sounds like it should've been included on Twisted by Design, but it was actually meant to be on An American Paradox, even though it sounds very different from the songs that did make it on that record. "Lost Motel" and "Your Worst Mistake" sound like they would go perfectly on The Element of Sonic Defiance, but were actually meant for An American Paradox.
Strung Out performs a cover of the Descendents "I'm Not a Loser" and Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon", which are great. The "Velvet Alley" acoustic version also makes an impression. There are a few demo and single versions of past songs like "Wrong Side of the Tracks" and "Just Like Me". While its really up to the listener to decide what they like better, I find these demo and single versions to be amusing. "Jacqueline" is the demo version of "Jackie-O" from The Element of Sonic Defiance, and it was recorded 4 years before that EP. It's hard to beleive they almost put that song on Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues.
A lot of earlier Strung Out songs are on here as well, including "Sinner or Coward", "American Lie" and "Season of the Witch." "Forever is Today" is a previously unreleased track.
Prototypes and Painkillers is a great compilation album, and makes the listener wish these songs were on Strung Out's studio albums. However, I do feel this was released at a good time. This far in their career, Strung Out released a compilation that would've been good enough to be an album. But Strung Out still released a brand new album later in 2009, so props to them.