Review Summary: Fun, Catchy, and incredibly enjoyable. The way Pop-Punk is supposed to be.
Rise Or Die Trying is the 2nd LP, from Worcester, Massachusetts, Four Year Strong. Their very unique style blends pop-punk with electronica, plus a few hardcore screams, and the odd breakdown added in. This kind of style may be dismissed at first, but they are able to somehow pull it off with relative ease.
The strange guitar tones are a unique quality in these guys. ''The Take Over'' starts things off preparing us for what lies ahead. This is followed by the awesome ''Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated'' which officially starts off the album in a fast way. Fantastic vocals from guitarists Dan O'Conner and Alan Day work in perfect harmony, and their back and forth sing-a-longs are brilliantly structured and are quickly able to draw the listener in. Some hardcore-esque screams and a breakdown are a bit strange, but surprisingly don't really detract anything from the song. A great opener.
''Abandon Ship or Abandon All Hope'' continues on the fast start of the album, with a nice guitar riff and some albeit weird lyrics, but the catchiness is infectious.
A massive strength of this album is how incredibly catchy it is. Lead single the awesomely titled ''Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die'' is a great song with beautiful harmony and incredibly good hooks and is my album standout. It is obvious, that this song was written with the intention of it being a crowd favorite at live shows, with a breakdown and crowd sing-a-longs.
''Sad enough to say that alone l could barely light a match, but together we could burn this place down''
This lyric is then followed by a breakdown, thrown in for no apparent reason, but for some reason it just works and adds a different dimension to the song.
The lyrics in songs like ''Catastrophe'', ''Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell'' and the humorously titled ''Bada Bing, Wit A Pipe!'' are ultimately weird, but are well written, and many people can definitely relate to the lyrical themes portrayed in these songs.
One problem with this album, some may have is the hardcore screams, and the unnecessary breakdowns, seem like they were chucked in, without much thought into how it would ultimately improve the song. But this is forgotten, once you are into the core of the album, as songs like ''Wrecked Em, Damn Near Killed Em'' and ''Catastrophe'' are blasting through the speakers.
Guitarists and Vocalists Dan O'Conner and Alan Day who are on double duty, combine their guitar playing and vocals really well and they are able to feed off each other. Their vocal styles are very different, but they are able to combine their differing styles really well, to add a little bit of variation. These two are definitely the standouts of this album. The bass is mostly inaudible but Joe Weiss contributes a heavy tone to the couple of breakdowns on here, the drumming is standard from Jake Massuco with no real standout parts. Josh Lyford's synth work is admirable and he also adds something different to each song.
Towards the back end of the album, the record slows down a little bit with ''Beatdown In The Key Of Happy'', ''If He's Here, Who's Runnin Hell'' and ''Maniac (ROD)''. These songs aren't as strong as the ones that came before them, but are by no means bad songs. They definitely end the album on a good note.
The main theme of this album is that it's all supposed to be a lot of fun, and they have certainly achieved that goal. It is a little bit of a shame that they went away from this unique style on their next album ''Enemy Of The World'' but this will always be how many people first heard and fell in love with Four Year Strong.