Strike Anywhere, one of the best up-and-coming melodic hardcore bands of today, unleashed this adrenaline shot straight into the aorta of the punk world as a follow-up to 2001's great debut album "Change Is A Sound", and my expectations were really high for this sophomore release. I'll start right off by saying - I wasn't disappointed. Rather the opposite. I was pleasantly surprised with most all of the songs on this album - it's anthemic, it's political, it's aggressive, it's hard-hitting, it's... well, a whole bunch of other adjectives too!
The album kicks off with the intro song "We Amplify", which smoothly transitions into a track called "Blaze" - the first two songs are really the same song, just divided in two (for reasons to me unknown). Within the first few songs, vocalist Thomas Barnett has me completely convinced, with the dead-on transitions between screaming, singing and shouting - each style calculated to fit the part of the song. The back-ups break in right when they're supposed to. Drummer Eric Kane does an excellent job mirroring the guitar and bass riffs to create a hectic yet steady foundation.
The lyrics could almost be compared to those of Propagandhi - they make a whole lotta sense, they're intelligent without being over the top, and they're highly political. Now, I think it's hard (if not impossible) to write political lyrics this day and age, without them being cliché. I'm not saying Strike Anywhere succeed at that either, they handle the same subjects as everyone else - government lies, unity, warfare, you name it. They also fall into some of the most common traps when it comes to being populistic and repeating what's already been said. But this doesn't bother me too much, as it all strikes me as both sincere and well thought-through. And it's the effort that matters, right? Yes, especially when the end result is this good.
Now I'm supposed to cover this albums negative qualities, and much like it has happened a few times before, I'm stumped. There's really nothing I'd want to change here - the playing's tight, the vocals impressive, the songwriting solid and the production spotless. There may be a few too common chord progressions in there, and perhaps the occasional "woo-hoo" chant-along seems trite. But all-in-all, this isn't anything that bothers me in the least, as this truly is an outstanding album!