Unwritten Law



by Robby Roark (The Sludge) USER (26 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2006 | 16 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

From getting their start back in 1990 in Poway, California. Unwritten Law has been through their ups and downs. Known for their ever changing line up (up to around 20 members since their start). Unwritten Law has built quite a following among the Cali punk scene during the mid '90's along with fellow friends in Blink 182. Unwritten Law gained attention with their minor radio hit Cailin from their 1998 self titled album. Now in 2002, a complete sound change and aggression fuels this breakthrough album Elva. After being number 1 selling rock album of 2003 in Australia, and "Seein' Red" reaching number 1 on the modern rock tracks here in the states, did they deserve the praise?

Unwritten Law's Line-up as of this album:
Vocals Scott Russo
Guitar Steve Morris
Guitar Rob Brewer
Bass Pat Kim
Drums Wade Youman

The first thing to notice on the album is a heavier tone to the album. The majority of the songs packs quite a punch off the gates, drilling you with songs of anger and hate. Songs like Hellborn will kick you in the balls with aggression and anger. Right off the bat, Russo basically yells lyrics, using blatant references to drugs (I'm still getting high)and venting his frustrations using curse words ("You want some, yeah mother f*cker c'mon). With a pulse driven guitar riff, easily makes it the hardest track on here. Mean Girl starts out easily enough, until Russo yells "yeah". Then a hard main riff and mixing board effects kick in, with lyrics of wanting a bad girl for all the wrong reasons kick in. My favorite lyric comes from here, stating "I need you like a bullet in the back of the head." Babalon, like the mentioned songs, is also driven by a hard sounding guitar lick. Backing vocals in the chorus fits nicely with Russo's powered voice as the drumming towards the end is nothing short of phenomenal. Rescue Me delivers one of the greatest guitar openers on the cd, and able to still be catchy. Up All Night infectious chorus and dark tone makes this a tremendous single chosen from the cd. Again Unwritten Law uses a blatant drug reference in Up All Night ("Lets catch up on the back porch, fire up another roach"). The greatest song on the cd is the last one, Evolution. Judge Ruffneck provides the opening vocals, a bit eerie, but fits the track perfectly. The bass picks up where he leaves off, and a real jam fest happens. Russo's vocals burst in at about 50 sec into the song and just the whole feel of the song is amazing.

The other note to be taken from this, is opposed to the heavier side. There is a lighter, more slower and chorus driven side. To me, this side is what makes this album seem to have more variety, and a fair amount of replay value. Geronimo starts off as ballad type guitars. A song about moving forward about past regrets, slowly progressing into an impressive rock track. Following the heavy Hellborn, this is such a welcome switch. So much emotion in Russo's voice, and it?s a song I relate to for various reasons. The starting of How You Feel gets you swaying, vocals wasn?t impressing me, but the nice reggae guitars during the verse forgives it nicely. Seein' Red is another ballad type to begin with. My interpretation is, its about a guy who cant run away from his problems forever. Solid chorus and echoing vocals makes this radio hit's replay value stay strong, after these years. Elva includes some awesome guitar effects. Similar to Geronimo, starts out like a ballad type, then turns into a solid rock track. It does seem to drag a bit, but it includes a well put guitar solo before kicking back into the strong chorus. Rest Of My Life has one great intro, then turns into a somewhat "pop" quality verse and a catchy-as-hell chorus. Still a good listen, but not like some others on here. Actress Model... isn?t impressive. Mild instruments and subpar lyrics. Easily a skippable track.

This album is worth the praise. Mixing many different emotions and blends from track to track. Some complaints include the somewhat of skits on here, really just an annoyance. At time the music seems slightly over produced while Russo's voice seems slightly under produced, but it doesn?t take away how raw this album sounds. Lyrics are sophomoric, including some not needed drug references. Although this is a great album, it can take a few listens to get the overall feel. Still, it?s a great disc to pick up, and the hidden track features Tom Delong of the Blink 182 fame, over a cell phone messege singing a line from Up All Night proves that w/o studio production, cant sing worth poo.

The Sludge's Thumbs up's:
Sound Siren

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Comments:Add a Comment 
The Sludge
May 22nd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Please some constructive critizism please. I'm still finding my knack of writing reviews.

May 22nd 2006


Not bad, you're improving.
I can't stand these guys, but you hit the nail on the head with up All Night, that was a monstrously catchy pop song, and is still one of my guilty pleasures.

May 22nd 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Hey! this is like my favorite albums of all time I love this CD!!!!

The Jungler
May 22nd 2006


The single off this wasn't bad. Neither was the review.

The Sludge
May 22nd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Honestly, if you enjoyed Seein' Red, listen to Geronimo... its terrific.

May 22nd 2006


Seein' Red is a pretty cool song. Nice Review too :thumb:

The Sludge
August 5th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Whoa, whats up with the question marks?????

December 27th 2006


great album, nice review

April 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Nice album!

October 5th 2008


That is not Tom from blink 182, Thats my friend tom bueker. He mentions our friend Wade when hes talking (Wade Almanza) We all live in colorado ive known these guys for about 3 years now.

September 25th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome, very underrated album. "Up All Night" and "Seein' Red" are probably two of the best songs they ever wrote. Great review man, wish these guys would get more respect instead of being seen as alt-rock one hit wonder also-rans. They were/are much better than that.

November 18th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

GERONIMO rules hard

April 1st 2011


Misses the high school moments with this album

May 8th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

So Follow, the leader now!

July 20th 2012


"Seeing Red" is a beautiful song.

Digging: Armor For Sleep - What To Do When You Are Dead

March 25th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

Rated this album a 5/5.

Even despite impotent filler tracks Nick and Phil, Raleigh Pt. 5 & 6 - this album resonates something special in me. It's a real, bare bones, true punk rock album. From fast, edgy Up All Night, to the mellow How You Feel; this album reeks of persona and style. Sure Actress, Model, Dancer is probably just a shamble of meaningless lyrics on behalf of Scott.. But I even found myself headbangin' and singing along to the infectious melody and pure harmonies of the chorus. Brilliant work UL.

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