Review Summary: Back in the game.Quick disclaimer: English is not my first language, so any feedback in regards to spelling, grammar and structuring is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Four Year Strong has had an interesting tenure throughout their ten year long lifespan. They're highly regarded as one of the pioneers of the "Easycore" subgenre – an umbrella term for bands that combine the upbeat melodies and hooks of pop-punk with the aggressive stylings of hardcore, such as breakdowns, double-bass drumming and the occasional screaming. This musical palette combined with the dueling vocals of guitarist/vocalists Dan O' Connor and Alan Day led to a busy, chaotic yet catchy sound; one that has propelled them to a great deal of success over the years. To date, their third album entitled Enemy of The World
stands as the band's crowning achievement, and I personally regard as being one of my all-time favorite pop-punk albums. The soaring choruses, buzz-saw guitar riffs, pulse pounding breakdowns and vocal dynamics made it one of 2010's most memorable efforts, and several bands have since tried to capture the same intensity that made that album so special, but to little success.
Then, the unthinkable happened. The following year, Four Year Strong lost a member and cranked out a new album that left fans and critics alike scratching their heads in confusion. To be fair, 2011's In Some Way, Shape, or Form
wasn't awful judged on it its own merits, but in comparison to what came before? Nah-ah. All of the energy from past efforts had vaporized, and in place of its absence were dull, uninspired songs that sounded like leftover material from a Foo Fighters LP. Heck, even the lead single "Just Drive" blatantly copied certain aspects from a similarly titled Deftones song. It didn't take long for Four Year Strong's relevance to plummet to the ground – touring decreased drastically in frequency, no new material was written and the band was subsequently put on a hiatus, with rumors of the band splitting quickly surfacing. I was just as surprised as everyone else when Four Year Strong suddenly announced their re-entry to the music scene earlier this year, with news of a signing with Pure Noise Records and a brand-new EP dropping this summer. Could "Go down in History"
possibly justify their three year hiatus and the failed musical experiment that was their last album? The short answer is yes; a huge, resounding yes
The first few seconds of opener "What's In the Box" manage to set the record straight (they literally sing "Let's set the record straight" as the song opens). Four Year Strong is back with an unrelenting vengeance, and this time, they're here to stay. The bouncy, intricate riffs and double-bass drum attack of said opener hearkens back beautifully to the Easycore heydays of early FYS and from there on out, the surprises keep on coming. The feel-good summer vibe of "Living Proof of a Stubborn Youth" keeps the momentum going, with a massive, spine-tingling bridge that is sure to set venues ablaze. Then there is the multi-pronged sensory assault in the form of "Tread Lightly", which features some of the most blazing fast guitar work thus far in the band’s career. Jackson Massucco's drumming keeps the song moving at a tantalizing rate, and the anthemic chorus is appropriately cathartic without sounding too soft or sugary.
Then, there is the title track, and what a killer title track it is. The gang-vocal laden intro is epic and massive sounding, and the fuse is ignited in the fast-moving verses which then utterly explode in the song's chorus, which features a hook that is downright monumental. Four Year Strong has always had a knack for writing catchy and fist-pumping refrains, but that ability has rarely been showcased any stronger than on this track. Closer "So You're Saying There Is Chance" is a good summary of the EP is a whole, doling out a steady supply of hooks, riffs and vocal-trade offs in true FYS form.
In conclusion, "Go down in History"
is a rollicking good time. Not only has the band completely reversed the damaged caused by their last album, but they even manage show wonderful signs of well-needed progression. The riffs are faster, more intricate and memorable, the choruses are larger-than-life than ever before, and the few slivers of Easycore goodness on display serve as a great reminder of the band's humble roots without coming off as forced or contrived. Four Year Strong has finally found their sound, and if this EP is merely a sign of things to come, then color me hyped beyond reasonable levels.