Strung Out
Transmission.Alpha.Delta


3.8
excellent

Review

by Jom STAFF
March 23rd, 2015 | 36 replies


Release Date: 03/24/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "If it ain't broke...", don't break it.

I can understand where critics come from when they accuse Strung Out of abusing the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage. It's hard to fault the band - if the musical machine's been humming along without incident for over two decades, I can imagine why the band would be reticent to make any sweeping changes on Transmission.Alpha.Delta. However, I argue that, throughout their discography, Strung Out have been musical engineers who have scoffed at the prospect of not fixing something just because it isn't broken. If something can be improved, should it" Who would be content with the status quo" Isn't it something that should be questioned, be it in business or science or art" Rather than being comfortable with resting on laurels or phoning it in (this record will be the band's 8th with Fat Wreck Chords), the band continue to find ways to deconstruct their renowned archetypal sound and expand upon it.

From the outset, Jordan Burns's rollicking thoom-thoom-thoom drum intro in album opener "Rats in the Walls" showcases that the band and producer Kyle Black paid diligent attention to the album's production, and this amplified sonic architecture is further illustrated on the track with Jake Kiley's and Rob Ramos' blistering guitar harmonies. As expected, the guitar work throughout Transmission.Alpha.Delta is sublime - the intro to "The Animal and the Machine", the harmonized breakdown and solo in album highlight "Black Maps", the thrash-influenced "Tesla", and the flamenco-like flair in the appropriately-titled "Spanish Days" are just a small sample size of the record's manifold highlights. In lockstep with his 6-stringed brethren, bassist Chris Aiken's low-end rumble thunders along in tracks like album closer "Westcoasttrendkill" and "Spanish Days", but his work on "Black Maps" is magnificent. The seamless manner in which the three guitarists' lines are interwoven is distinctly memorable. There are plenty of throwback cuts on the album, too -- "Nowheresville" is most reminiscent of the band's '90s discography (specifically Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted By Design), followed closely behind by "Tesla" and "Magnolia".

Rounding out the quintet is vocalist Jason Cruz, who hasn't deviated in the slightest with his seasoned, timeworn delivery. Thematically, he frequently challenges where the human race is headed, for good or for ill, broaches broad topics of freedom and hope, and sardonically infuses political and religious imagery in songs like "The Animal and the Machine" ("We've all been down this road before / Our history . . . shows exactly what we're headed for"), "Rebellion of the Snakes" ("The past is dead / It don't exist anymore / The present is passing quicker than ever before"; "We are devoid of religion, we are the science of it all / And when forever came calling, we never thought that we'd give in"), and "Westcoasttrendkill" ("Articulate the chaos and the way to resurrection / You are the bullet that killed the revolution / 'Cause you're the sum of every moment that you've been alive"). While Cruz has made his mark on vitriol and spite, his heart-on-sleeve messages are equally satisfying, especially in songs like "Go It Alone" ("Another day of waking, being next to you / The world could end and I'd be fine right here where I am"), "No Apologies" (which is heartily reminiscent of "Mission Statement" from Blackhawks Over Los Angeles in motif), and "Black Maps" ("I believe there's a place where you and me can find our way / ... It's a place we never let 'em see, a place designed for you and me / 'X' marks the spot / You'll always know exactly where to find me"). On his own, Cruz is a capable, resolute vocalist, and songs sound cohesive and tight-knit with or without the back-up vocals. There are also frequent references to "our song", which is admirable to hear, as this sense of unity and solidarity has been an essential element in Cruz' lyricism.

Ultimately, being familiar with Strung Out's discography will dictate whether or not you listen to Transmission.Alpha.Delta -- there are no innovative surprises but a collection of solid songs. If this is your first album, it's a respectable choice. Their breakneck melodic punk/thrash hybrid sound has stood the test of time for over 20 years, and the instrumentation is as intense and frenetic as ever. To that end, there's not a wide array of variability in tempo across Transmission.Alpha.Delta's 43-minute duration, with nary a respite or moment to breathe. When considering everything from Another Day in Paradise to Agents of the Underground, there are more familiar commonalities than groundbreaking distinctions. There are some dreadful missteps ("Modern Drugs"), and while the sampled messages heard here-and-there throughout the album reflect the album name and theme (my favorite appears in the album's opening seconds: it's a passage from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator), they are not always incorporated effectively. Above all else, Transmission.Alpha.Delta is assuredly a Strung Out record and, despite the augmented production, it's formulaic to a 'T'; however, given their consistency, energy, and passion, this machine could easily continue to sing, strum, and pummel away for another 20 years. The album might not necessarily enhance their legacy, but it certainly makes a case for cementing it.

Jom recommends:

"Black Maps"
"The Animal and the Machine"
"Rats in the Walls"
"Rebellion of the Snakes"




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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2015


3104 Comments


The album booklet is pretty cool: http://imgur.com/gallery/Rovd5

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2015


22485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Who doesn't like a surprise Jom review. Great stuff , as usual.



I actually heard 'The Animal and The Machine 2 or 3 days ago & really liked it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 23rd 2015


28119 Comments


Isn't every Jom review a surprise? Agree with Davey, great stuff. The embedded track sounds good enough for me to give this a spin, plus the album booklet is sweet.

Digging: mewithoutYou - [Untitled]

Kusangii
March 23rd 2015


2013 Comments


Solid band, should probably check this out

Sanders
March 23rd 2015


2410 Comments


Really enjoying this, feels like an age since their last record

Shiranui
March 23rd 2015


550 Comments


Can't wait to listen.

StrizzMatik
March 23rd 2015


3683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I was going to review this but there's pretty much no point because you echoed my own sentiments perfectly Jom, great job. Good album but nothing mindblowing.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2015


3104 Comments


Your sound-off looked great. No harm in adding to it!

OwMySnauze
March 23rd 2015


1823 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great write up Jom. I'm excited about this release especially if it's in the same vein of SWTB and TBD

Digging: Four Seconds Ago - The Vacancy

StrizzMatik
March 23rd 2015


3683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's way more like their last two to be honest. Tesla, Magnolia, Nowheresville and Westcoasttrendkill are all awesome, but there's a lack of standouts in general and too much midtempo for me. Strung Out sound better playing stupidly fast

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2015


14768 Comments


Need to check this. Great rev.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2015


3104 Comments


>> I had no idea jom listened to music tbh

wat is music

>> It's way more like their last two to be honest. Tesla, Magnolia, Nowheresville and Westcoasttrendkill are all awesome, but there's a lack of standouts in general and too much midtempo for me. Strung Out sound better playing stupidly fast

You don't like the first three songs?

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2015


23788 Comments


great review Jom. actually never took the time to listen to these guys before but I'm enjoying what I'm hearing

Digging: Outer Heaven - Realms Of Eternal Decay

Ponton
Emeritus
March 23rd 2015


6358 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Need need need

Digging: Clark - Clark

ShadowRemains
March 23rd 2015


24982 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ that



but yeah i'll prob listen to this, although their exile/twisted days are behind them

ProjectFreak
March 24th 2015


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So this is the first time I've listened to this band, and it's homogeneous and repetitive as all get out and it's so great. It's great to blast this when you're the only one in the office.

StrizzMatik
March 24th 2015


3683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I definitely like the first three tracks quite a bit it's just the middle of the record and a few in the end of that are kind of duds. And in general it seems to be lacking the energy of their older stuff. Relatively speaking of course, their duds are better than most bands' weaker tracks, and I kinda get a "been there and done that better" vibe. I just wish there were more Mission To Mars/Orchid/Razor Sex/Ice Burn type aggro tracks, usually they balance out the poppier songs but really don't show up here.

And yeah Exile is the best, followed by Element EP, Twisted and American Paradox for me. I really hope we get a remix like the first three albums did, Exile desperately needs it.

Ecnalzen
March 24th 2015


7363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excited about this. Really enjoy this band.



Damn, Jom. Always love reading your reviews. You have a way with the words.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2015


3104 Comments


>> I definitely like the first three tracks quite a bit it's just the middle of the record and a few in the end of that are kind of duds. And in general it seems to be lacking the energy of their older stuff. Relatively speaking of course, their duds are better than most bands' weaker tracks, and I kinda get a "been there and done that better" vibe.

"Modern Drugs" is dreadful, aye. Do you like "Black Maps"? That's obviously my favorite one on here. Your point is well met from "Magnolia" through "No Apologies", though, for sure.

>> Damn, Jom. Always love reading your reviews. You have a way with the words.

IRL job requires a lot of cold, calculated writing, so I overcompensate by having conversational reviews. Glad that at least one person likes them!

>> if anyone hasn't heard exile in oblivion do yourselves a favor and get it

Co-signed (ATTN: Atari). Hopeful for a remix like Strizz wrote. This is why Spotify is great!

Ponton
Emeritus
March 24th 2015


6358 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just what I wanted/expected



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