Strung Out
The Element of Sonic Defiance


4.0
excellent

Review

by RandyfromPennywise USER (34 Reviews)
June 21st, 2006 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


Strung Out - The Element of Sonic Defiance (2000)

Well apparently this was an EP. I downloaded this and it came with 11 tracks so when I heard that it was an EP I was kind of confused. Anyway, after some searching on the net it appeared as though I had got the three 'bonus tracks' with the album, so for the purposes of this review I am reviewing it as an 11-track (10-song) album, not an 8-track EP.

I first saw Strung Out live in 2001 at a festival, but didn't fully appreciate them. I was only aware of a few of their songs from Fat Wreck compilations, so I watched from afar at this band who were somewhere between hardcore Punk and unbelievably attractive melodic Punk played with remarkable energy and feeling. Bring the picture up to about five months ago and we have broadband finally put on in our house. Ah, the world of free music becomes available. Well I don't want to get into the pros and cons of downloading music for nought but let's put it this way: I went to see Strung Out last night and I wouldn't have if I hadn't downloaded their music. Anyway, I downloaded most of Strung Out's work from the past 12 years, and The Element of Sonic Defiance hasn't really been getting much of a run on iTunes. I mean I'm not 'over' Twisted By Design or Exile In Oblivion yet. That was until I bought my ticket to their show a few weeks ago and started to listen to all of their stuff.

The Element has been described as a change of direction for Strung Out, the band taking a darker and more ominous approach to this record. Well it is more 'Hardcore' than its predecessor Twisted By Design, and I think it's fair to say that the songs are largely less positive and more introspective and contemplative. There certainly isn't a “Matchbook” or “The Misanthropic Principle” on The Element. It would be unfair to say that Strung Out portrayed a message of negativity on this record though, and the energy of the recordings is palpable. The bridge on Blew - thanks to the beautifully crafted harmonies - is a rare uplifting moment in this half-hour of no-nonsense Punk Rock. The Element has stripped down the Strung Out sound the loyal fans had become accustomed to and the difference between The Element and Strung Out's other work of the time is unmistakable. The most obvious point is the lack of “Pop” (perhaps more accurately “Pop-Punk”) on this record, although SO's talent for penning an unforgettable bridge or chorus isn't lost on parts of Everyday Game or Jacky O.

The Element showcases the Hardcore side of Strung Out while never losing sight of the confines of both the album and practicality. The opening tracks are undeniably far more 'Hardcore', as the second-half of the album (including the bonus tracks) loses the angst of Mission To Mars and Savant. The first of the two bonus songs (Andre's Circus is just a 30-second track of someone talking), Novacaine takes the Strung Out fan back to Twisted By Design and is even reminiscent of 1996's Suburban Teenage Wasteland. The flowing chorus shows the tightness of the band with Jason (lead vocalist) complementing the band expertly. Mephisto-lofi further supports the argument that The Element is more than likely Strung Out's most diverse recording to date, showing that their traditional fast-paced melodic Punk can intertwine flawlessly with the Hardcore songs to construct a divergent yet nevertheless strong album.

Personally I find some of the Hardcore songs on this album a little overdone, but it is worthy to note that I am not a huge fan of Hardcore Punk. Mission To Mars is just too angry and 'hard' for me, as it really fits more into Metal than Punk to a certain extent. Despite this it is a stellar example of Strung Out's diversity, of which The Element is the shining example. Savant falls largely into the same category as 'Mission To Mars', yet the best way I can describe the feeling of the first 10 minutes of the record is “ass-kickin'”. Heavy, energetic Punk Rock that will probably evoke something inside you, more than likely either despondency or rage. The opening verse of Everyday Game reminds me of 'Blueprint Of The Fall' from 2004's Exile In Oblivion, and is almost equally as a good song. This is one of the stronger tracks on the album and the guitar work is of particular note. The way the song evaporates after the powerful bridge and solo is somewhat indicative of the feeling throughout the album, that of desolation and dejection. This outlook is carried over to the prominent Razorback. One of the less 'hardcore' songs on The Element, this powerful mix of simplicity and raw energy is indicative of the album in general: incredible energy and emotion placed over powerful Punk Rock with an overriding melancholy feeling.

Although I personally don't rate this as highly as Twisted By Design or Exile In Oblivion it is certainly an excellent addition to the Strung Out catalogue. The band extended its boundaries and pushed its limits and the result is the highly distinctive The Element of Sonic Defiance. If you like this record there is no doubt you will love Strung Out's other stuff. One of the most outstanding elements of Strung Out for me is their uplifting and optimistic songs (such as Too Close To See and Matchbook) which were sadly lacking from this album. Nonetheless The Element of Sonic Defiance stands alone as one of the best “EPs” around, and the Hardcore element is certainly some of the best Hardcore Punk I've heard. Overall I have to give this a four out of five: it's a strong album - there is a distinct lack of 'filler' - yet it just lacks that exceptional element to be considered an undeniable classic.



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user ratings (80)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 21st 2006


3995 Comments


whoa r u really randy frum pennywise??!!!?!?

RandyfromPennywise
June 21st 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well seeing as I'm in Australia and am 20, no, I'm not, but I'm RandyfromPennywise on this site....

RandyfromPennywise
June 21st 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers mate. Yeah I have only got really into these guys recently and I wanted to do a review on them, and all the others had been done. I'm still not sure why no one has done this one up until now, oh well, I enjoyed writing it.

CushMG15
June 21st 2006


1802 Comments


Blueprint of the Fall is from 2005's Exile In Oblivion. American Paradox was before that. I recommend buying the albums...pirate. Just kidding.

Pretty solid review. I love Strung Out, but the only songs I've heard off of this are from Live in a Dive. I love Savant and Lost Motel, they're sweet tracks.

CushMG15
June 21st 2006


1802 Comments


STFdood actually did a brilliant review of this awhile ago, but I think it got lost in the crash just after the New Year.

RandyfromPennywise
June 21st 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I can remember all Strung Out's albums being reviewed, I figured it might have been in the crash. I lost 10 reviews in the crash, that sucked.

*Changed the mistake on Blueprint. Man that was an amateur mistake!

CushMG15
June 21st 2006


1802 Comments


I know man, I was just jiving. I voted.

RandyfromPennywise
June 21st 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I would prefer you to point it out actually, I hate having mistakes in pieces. Cheers for voting ay.

STFDood84
July 24th 2006


179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Heh. I was wondering where my review went . Yeah, this EP is definitely key, one of Strung Out's best releases ever, if not their best overall. Every song is kick-ass. Great review Randy, nice to see you again... brings back memories of when it used to be just Punks Vs. Metalheads back in the day at MxTabs (BEFORE musicianforums).

RandyfromPennywise
July 24th 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha yeah those were classic days, all those metalheads everywhere! I reckon this EP confirmed SO's reputation as one of the most diverse Punk bands of the last ten years, not to mention that they completely nailed doing an 'album' (it's close enough to being an album) of another genre first go. Hope they release a new album soonish.

StrizzMatik
May 11th 2007


3208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just like to reiterate how insane this EP is.

Digging: Lagwagon - Hang

RandyfromPennywise
May 11th 2007


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And how much I'm looking forward to the new album next month!

StrizzMatik
June 27th 2007


3208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is still the best record song-for-song Strung Out has ever done and IMO one of the best releases of the 00's easily. Not one bad/mediocre song on it and it f*cks your mom too. Without a rubber!

klawsterfobia
July 1st 2007


2 Comments


Hmm I really can't get into this cd and i feel dirty for saying so. Its got some great songs in Everyday, Mephisto, Razorblade, but i just dont think it stands up against AAP or EIO.

AP07373
September 28th 2008


493 Comments


I like this album...I got it right when it came out I think...so years ago. I think Everyday is a fantastic track by them.

nikstar
February 24th 2010


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

still listen to this one occasionally.

owl316
October 12th 2010


83 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

same here dude. i saw strung out with only knowledge of twisted by design, exile in oblivion, suburban teenage wasteland blues and a few AOTU songs, and even then they were a favorite band.

Blew, Mephisto, Novacain and Savant wreck this album. The rest is cool too, but they never really went back to this style. they had dark material, but not like the playing style on this

StrizzMatik
March 15th 2012


3208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

They were at their absolute best on this EP IMO. Really embodies everything great about them, and like owl said, they never really went back to this awesome experimental detour, and it kinda sucks.



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