Review Summary: Puke Rock or Die !!!!
Holy 90′s!!! It looks like the resurgence of 90′s nu-metal is still very much a happening thing in the metalcore/post-hardcore genres. Columbus, Ohio’s quartet of self-proclaimed "Puke Rockers" have taken it to the next level with a combination of stir-fry nu-metal meets late 90′s early 2000′s hardcore. First off, let me say that this is probably the biggest improvement I have ever seen from a band signed to Rise Records. If you didn't know that My Ticket Home were a metalcore band you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a 'greatest hits' album of a band that hit their peak in the 90's or 2000's. Everything and I mean everything has been changed & strengthened and as you will soon discover this is a good thing.
Strangers Only is My Ticket Home's second full-length, albeit the first with vocalist Nick Giumenti picking up a bass guitar in addition to his mic duties. Starting off with the explosive track "Spit Not Chewed" within the first 30 seconds you immediately notice the Slipknot meets Mudvayne influence. The song maintains the riff throughout, the screams are very well delivered yet slightly monotone. The song tends to drag a bit but still a great way to start the album. The next song, "Painfully Bored," also has that same nu-metal feel with the guitars, yet it speeds it up a bit, almost feeling like a hardcore punk song minus the guitars. I can actually thank the singer and drummer for doing a great job of making the song feel different because the guitars didn’t really do that job well. The third track, "Hot Soap," finally brings some clean vocals into the fray for a chorus that feels rather Slipknot-esque, yet still feels a bit fresh compared to the first two tracks.
Track number four, "Teenage Cremation," we’re back with a more fast-paced, yet still nu-metal sound that like "Painfully Bored" tries to give a bit of a hardcore punk edge. Actually, the song shares very similar structure in the guitars and the chorus just goes back to a riff; low chords with one harmonic note in an attempt to make it sound different. "Keep Alone" then bursts into your psyche, where haunting clean and screamed vocals mesh well with the dark and relentless sound that the band was going for. "You All Know Better Than Me" shows the band successfully channeling their inner Rage Against The Machine. It's a tremendously in-your-face selection that should ignite pits all across the nation when performed live.
The album doesn't change pace until track seven, "Head Change." Though the chorus does have that same feel, the verses take it a bit softer, done in TrustCompany-styled bouts of held back aggression with palm-muted guitars backing it up building up to the chorus. "Foul Stench Of Youth" features explosive lyrics delivered with a very over-the-top fervor. "Ayahuasca" buzzes and boils with its powerful sense of misery and paranoia, followed by the supremely rapturous strains of closing track "Kick Rocks" with the lyrics screaming "Straight from the ass out of your mouth & Suck my poison" with a venomous sense of condemnation.
Strangers Only has that genuine big nu-metal sound; lots of distortion, dissonance to the extreme, feedback, massive sounding drums and really raw vocals. Front-man Nick Giumenti for the whole duration of this record is screaming his lungs out and does a great job at it. Production wise Will Putney did an exceptional job on this record. Track, "Teenage Cremation" perfectly embodies that rawness that Will has been able to successfully pull off. Lyrically this record isn't exactly brimming with creativity, but nu-metal was never known for its lyrical content rather use of angst and "*** you all" message. Gems like, "A free love is a lie, but I take it anyway" and "Bull*** poser, who are you, bull*** poser, get a clue" show you the kind of lyrical themes and writing style you will encounter on every track.
As big of an improvement as this record is, it is not without it's pitfalls. A few tracks in and it’s apparent the album feels like it lacks variety. As refreshing and different this record feels, the same formula is being used over and over again. The same riffs, the same bends and use of dissonant ring-outs and feedback. There is no doubt that this album would sound massive in a live setting and there really is not one single track that wouldn't make you wanna two-step and push around other concert go-ers in the front row. The transformation of My Ticket Home is nothing short of amazing. The guys have gone from generic Rise Records metalcore band to a big sounding nu-metal band and actually manage to pull it off, albeit with a few annoyances. Strangers Only is a risky album that could easily be poo-pooed immediately as not being diverse enough in the instrumental department, but to give My Ticket Home credit where it’s due, they've written a damn good album!