Review Summary: Arrogance consumes The Phoenix.
At this point in CKY’s career, it’s fair to say the band hold a lot of baggage. They’ve had more Spinal Tap moments than I bet they care to admit; with countless feuds, fights, departures, re-joins, and member changes under their belt. Which brings me onto my next point, which is that their discography is as shaky as the waning friendships within the bandcamp; some real highlights, but also a lot of dodgy moments to boot. This, I surmise, is down to Miller and Ginsburg’s heated personalities clashing throughout most of their career, eventually leading to the departure of CKY’s vocalist, Miller, in 2010. Since 2009’s Carver City
we’ve had Miller leave the band; attempt to come back and work on new material – soon realising he couldn’t bear working with Ginsburg, resulting in him leaving again; other members come and go; countless ideas that never came to be, and all done, amazingly, with a fair bit of touring in-between. The only recorded material we’ve seen in 8 years is the track, “Afterworld”, which featured vocals from Ginsburg for the first time, and was made to accompany the 2012 Jackass 3 film. Ultimately, it looked as though the band were going to call it a day. The thing is, they didn’t called it a day, they’re persistent, and, to their credit, in spite of all the problems that have weighed them down, they’ve soldiered on through it all. The question I ask myself though, is do we really need CKY in 2017 – and more importantly, one without Miller on vocals? If I was to be harsh on the band, I’d say they haven’t pulled out anything particularly interesting since their sophomore release, Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild
– which is, ironically, the very same album they’re coining as a continuation and theme for this new LP. Hell, when their best album is Volume 1
, an album plagued with tonal issues, you know there should be something to worry about. Sure, post Volume 1
they haven’t had a bad album, but it’s hardly the potential they could have capitalized on from their debut. And the quality of their output has gradually declined with every release since.
So, at this point in CKY’s life, if they’re really willing to flog this dead horse, Ginsburg taking over vocal duties sounds like just the ingredient the band need in order to bring a freshness to their stagnant sound. However, the results of The Phoenix
are, for the most part, underwhelming at best. The biggest problem with this album is, unfortunately, Ginsburg’s vocals falling flat: there’s a serious lack of melody or hook with what he contributes on the singing front, and this makes The Phoenix
a snooze-fest throughout most of its short run-time. Yes, weighing in at just 8 tracks, this short LP still manages to drag its heels. The opening track, “Replaceable” is awkward as hell vocally, and equally as boring musically; but it’s rather blunt lyrical content is brash and embarrassing considering Ginsburg has the gall to point out how someone (not naming names) is “replaceable”, when he’s doing a worse job behind the mic than anyone else. Vocally, this album is pretty bad: ranging from a bad imitation of Miller’s tropes – lacking that “thing” to grab you into a track – to being repetitive and sometimes irritating. The music isn’t much better either, which just sounds like recycled sounds or ideas that never got released on previous records. The only two tracks that managed to pique interest were “Wiping Off the Dead”, for its driving, fuzzy rhythm and catchy riffs – though, again, vocally it blunts the effect it should have on the track – and “Better Than Get Even” for managing to bring something that works on all fronts: the last section of the track brings an eerie, creepiness instrumentally, which is one of the more appealing parts of the track, and the vocal effects, met with the bouncy riffs in its verse and choruses, bring a pretty memorable moment to take away from the LP.
It’s a shame to see the band go down this way: they fail to convince anyone they needed to come back with a new album, and it somehow manages to strip CKY of a lot of the credit they once had. There’s this terrible pompous swagger throughout the album where it thinks it has an importance and is bringing its A-game, the reality being it has and does neither. The bottom-line: don’t bother with this album. If you like CKY, you’ll find this album to be a soulless and dull mess. Musically it doesn’t offer anything new and vocally even less. If there's ever a next time, here's hoping Ginsburg puts his nose to the grindstone and focuses more on the music, than arrogantly waving a bad album in people's faces.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A