Alkaline Trio- Crimson
Pop Punk. It's been a while. It's quite difficult to come crawling back to a genre you gave a big, fat break for a while. Don't get me wrong, I have great appreciation for this genre and it was the very first I was ever properly introduced to; But noticing the change between different kinds of music lets you hear things that you didn't realize were there before. Coming back from heavy doses of the more raw, and coarse sound of classic punk gives you the ability to see things (or hear for this matter), that the naked eye, or ear, cant pick up on when the song you're listening to is just one of the many of the day belonging to the same music style. In other words, this review is bound to have pretty good detail as far as I'm concerned.
As well as many pop punk bands that stand at a fairly generic state, Alkaline Trio was never a big impact on me, but it was a damn good way to release some demons if you know what I mean, and entering the band's headspace was as easy as entering through the same realm other pop punk bands abide at so constantly. I'm not big on the band's history, but I always enjoy watching the war go on concerning the band's 'emo' stance. I'm not here to carelessly continue the argument, but to say that I honestly don't care. Their music is on the enjoyable side and that's all every fan should really care about when they're listening to a band, or these guys, at least. I recently learned they hail from Chicago, and first heard them when my sister let me borrow her copy of Maybe I'll Catch Fire
, which she hated. I gave it a chance, and started to get into the band's stuff until I became somewhat of a bigger fan when Good Mourning
came around in 2003 or so. Apologies for some loss of info about the group, but at this point to me it's clear that if you don't know the info yourself, then it doesn't really matter anyways. They're here to share their somewhat capricious music and that's all that should be known. Period.
Morbid vocals are a big aspect the band and lead vocalist Matt Skiba brings to my attention. While this isn't exactly all positive and all negative, there's reasoning behind it. The only flaw (and a pretty big one) with the vocals is that if you were to remove all music from a track, it would be monotone-fest. To me, its almost unbearable, but Skiba quickly makes up for it by entertaining with his distinctive voice to begin with. The band wouldn't be Alkaline Trio without it, and I'm sure it's the first thing every fan pointed out about the music itself at first. His flaw doesn't show in all his work, but enough for you to get used to it. While this is a big part of the band for me to look out for, it still has no comparison to the rest. Which is why I have begun the review with vocals this time around.
By now whoever hasn't figured out the band is made up of three members will I guess have trouble reading any review on the site. Skiba multi-tasks with glee on all his work with his guitar strap and his picks at reach. To say that his guitar-work doesn't do much for the band kind of upsets me, but it is partly true due to the fact that if they instead of Skiba's multi-tasking, a lead guitarist with more concentration, they would be able to crack out all the hooks that lure you into their albums, plus so much more. That's up to them, but the truth is that for every impressive introductory/main riff on this album at least, theres about three or four riffs in the other remaining tracks that either act up and make the track less worthwhile, or hold it back from reaching high numbers. Unique, and actually noticeable guitar-work from Skiba can be spotted on tracks like The Poison
, Back To Hell
and a few more. But overall, Skiba does a great job with transitions and keeping the line clean for the others both at once.
My favorite part of the band is without a doubt the rhythmic section, or technically speaking, two-thirds of the band. Behind of the drums sits Derek Grant, the musician on here that shows off talent the most, and behind the bass stands Dan Andriano. Andriano either has bad luck, or if he's the one that arranges his parts, he's just really stupid. When simple verses and sometimes non-chaotic mid-sections flow freely, Andriano never even bothers of bringing out the big guns, even in the area's higher points, where Skiba and Grant go a bit over the top to show that some sort of conclusion will come up. It's in parts where there's some sort of loud effect or other big distraction that Skiba does his big share. Hopefully, someone will be listening, because I almost couldn't recognize these large groups of notes hit when there's a backwash of effects coming from the other way. The man has talent, no doubt about that. But it needs to be placed in the right place most of the time. This doesnt go to waste, as he shares with drummer Derek Grant one of the most awesome bass/drum interaction I've ever heard from pop punk. Grant is brilliant. He's got speed, excellent coordination, and the timing that the drummer for the part requires to pull through most of the band's chaotic melodies. Other than that, It's the number of effects this guy uses to impress listeners. I cant spot one measure in his work that doesn't have some sort of ghost note, accents, a silenced buzz roll, or cymbal switching. Grant is brilliant, and one of the best that I've witnessed in pop punk.
Heading back to the rhythmic section interaction. Grant and Andriano are astonishing when working as a group in certain sections where Skiba's work is not greatly involved. Keeping in mind that Derek has something short and wacky to do at the end of every other lyric, Andriano follows, not always with an unpredictable array of notes, but with mimmicks, or an echo of the drum pattern that Derek shortly finishes. The bass is also sometimes blended in with lower-tones drums so well that it seems as if a note by Andriano is an extra kick by one of Grant's pedals. This is a remarkable thing to look out for, and I highly enjoy the duo working together to begin with. As far as backing vocals by Dan go, they get sort of repetitive and annoying after a while because all they really experiment with in every higher-speed chorus is the over-dubbing technique. Lyrics are also greatly admired by lots of fans, but I don't care for the alcohol-endulged talk Skiba shares with the audience (not to mention death). It never hit me, but it seems to be different with everyone else, so that's just me.
The singles seem to have the greater impact this time around (Time To Waste, Mercy Me, Burn), and they contain the material that is forthmost best presented in the fashion that fascinates. The marvelous introductory piano part on the first single Time To Waste
is a nice change to look out for, as well as synth material to accompany on tracks like Sadie
. This album is definitely worth a look, but not anywhere close to the band's best album. Good Mourning still stands as my favorite and it captures more of the band's emphasis that I like to see and hear. A lot of tracks on here feel all too generic and alike. A few gems, and a bunch of deadened leaves that now lie on the floor. If you're a fan, by all means, dig in. If not one yet, look elsewhere before beginning the discovery.
Stand Out Tracks:
Time To Waste
Back To Hell