Review Summary: A successful launch marred with some unnecessary weight shedding.
Sonic Boom Six have always been a unique band. Building on a foundation of punk and ska, their songs include numerous influences from genres such as reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, metal, grime etc and it’s this wide range that makes Sonic Boom Six such an interesting and exciting band to listen to. Taking all these genres and sounds and not only incorporating it into a coherent album but making every song still have a signature core sound that’s very much Sonic Boom Six’s own. The previous album “City of Thieves” was arguably the band at their peak, finely crafting their songwriting and genre blending skills to create a thoroughly enjoyable album that was a blast to listen to. Now the band are back with a new self titled album release.
Things start off with an air of familiarity with opener “For the Kids of the Multiculture” feeling very reminiscent to their previous albums opener “Welcome To The City Of Thieves” and sticks with the key sound that Sonic Boom Six offer, from the politically charged rapping to the bouncy riffs. However there is one major change that can be felt throughout the entirety of the album which makes it different to previous releases. Instead of dabbling in many different genres to create a diverse and eclectic sound, the band has instead chosen to take a major slice of electronica to be a part of the mixture this time around. From the loud bombastic bass found in “Virus” to the shrill synth in “The High Cost of Living”, this style change is very much part of this albums core sound. Thankfully they pull off the sound with a good degree of success making it fit within the songs rather than it sounding as if it was just shoved in at the last minute, highlights include the infectiously catchy “Gary Got A Gun” and the almost funk like vibe delivered by “S.O.S (State of Shock). That’s not to say there aren’t any heavier rock based moments; the album still maintains some of Sonic Boom Six’s punk/ska roots with such tracks as the emphatic sing along “Keep on Believing”. Unfortunately this greater emphasis on another style ends up being a double edged sword for the album.
Without the numerous other genres previously used to support their sound across the length of an album, “Sonic Boom Six” ends up showcasing all it has to offer around half way through which causes the latter half of the album to become a bit of a slog. This is assuaged somewhat by a shorter album length but it’s still noticeable and makes the album feel as though it’s dragging its heels to reach the final minutes. It’s in this instance where more variety would have helped keep interest and maintain the overall pace of the album, with previously mentioned “Keep on Believing” being a highlight during the latter half of the album with its more traditional, organic sound. Also even though some of Sonic Boom Six’s punk/ska roots are maintained, it’s more or less been abandoned in favour of a more straightforward rock sound. All of this can add up to an album that may make prior Sonic Boom Six fans feel alienated and make non-fans feel as though the album comes across as sounding too homogenous to find it worth sitting through.
In the end Sonic Boom Six deliver a good amount of songs that, given time and repeated listens, can be enjoyed amongst the rest of their back catalogue. However the trademark variety found on prior albums can be missed amongst the more streamlined sound and hopefully won’t serve as an indicator for the future of Sonic Boom Six.