Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Attack Attack ~ Deluxe Reissue

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: punk, alt rock, screamo, metalcore, experimental
Label: Rise Records
Year: 2011
Home: Ohio

Members: Caleb Shomo ~ vocals/keyboards
Johnny Franck ~ guitar/vocals
John Holgado ~ bass
Andrew Wetzel ~ drums
Andrew Whiting ~ guitar


It's hard not to take notice of this band due to their name. It's a quintessential rock band name much like Dragonforce or Slayer in terms of the feeling one gets just from the name alone. A nearly constant touring schedule over the past three years has also help stick it to memory. But, don't expect 80's power or hair metal. This is a youthful alt rock/punk band, or more probably screamo/metalcore for those that want proper names however unclear their definitions to an older generation. The singing tends to be a duel between hoarse throated screaming & normal voiced singing, like many bands neither is particularly interesting just adequate which is how the genre works, over symphonic keyboards & thrash-esque guitars but with enough punk & alt/pop rock elements that keep it clearly not a heavy metal band by traditional standards. AA has the expected metal ... attack, but takes to the battlefield from an unexpected direction. Actually, they reach out to a much wider audience with this fusion. AA might alienate hardcore metalheads, but a large majority, like myself, will probably pay attention & like a lot of the result, while they also rope in power pop audiences who don't like the extreme brutality of a lot of metal but want to headbang to heavy rhythms just the same in between sing-along pop ballads. Deluxe Reissue is an interesting choice of third album ... for any band. It's a reissue of their successful 2010 self-titled album, now renamed Deluxe Reissue, plus 4 new studio tracks ("Last Breath", "Pick A Side", "Criminal" & "All Alone"), 2 acoustic versions of old tracks ("I Swear I'll Change" & "Turbo Swag") & 2 remixes ("Sexual Man Chocolate" & "AC-130"). It's a little something to please fans until the official third album is released but seems like it's a premature release on some level. Why not release an EP, live album, just a remix album or a few singles online instead of reissuing an album barely a year old? The weakest part of the album, for me, is the hoarse throated singing which sounds painful at time ... painful for the singer & the listener ... though it's the style for much of this screamo genre. Like death metal it takes some getting used to. But, the almost symphonic arrangements & the thrashy guitars make up for it with hardcore head-banging rhythms & lots of variety. An alt rock version of Rage Against The Machine or Drowning Pool comes to mind ... particularly in terms of the rhythmic quality. The pop songs are less interesting & if it was only that this album would not appear on the blog lacking the hard rock quality I look for. As for the bonus tracks ... the four new tracks open the album up with an explosion. "Last Breath" & "Pick A Side" are metalcore outings, with "Last Breathe" the better though they sound incredibly similiar, while "Criminal" & "All Alone" are alt pop outings that abandon the throat singing & sound like a completely different band with electronic bubbling keyboards under the incredibly subdued guitars. The switching gears between these four tracks is quite astonishing. In many ways it foreshadows what lies ahead for those that don't know the original album. What made the original 2010 release & AA so interesting is that it does bounce around styles with near abandon pulling anything & everything from thrashy to melodic metal to electric elements such as dance beats. Some critics have called it a 'hodgepodge' but I actually find the variety enjoyable. Though, it is at times a band trying to discover what works & what doesn't versus creating some conceptual masterpiece a la Primal Scream's also diverse Screamadelica, while they do have many songs that use the same format and sound too much alike when they hit on a prize winning combination. I like a band that shows creativity & diversity, let alone I tend to often get board of the just the alt pop or just the screamo styles ... let alone this blog would not be covering the album if it was just the pop ... so while diehard fans might be alienated by the impurity it keeps strangers like me interested. This may not be the Screamadelica for a new generation but all the elements in place for Attack Attack to be one of the bands that brings music to a new level once they make different elements their own & less of a hodgepodge of new ideas. It takes time. Remember, the Beatles didn't march out the door with Sgt Pepper but did album after album of pop love songs. As for the other bonus tracks that conclude the album - completely unnecessary. The remixes are unnecessary experiments & actually a bit difficult to listen to while the acoustic songs of only guitar/vocals are just not fleshed out enough to be interesting alternative arrangements. These last four tracks will also alienate both the metal & the pop fans & can be skipped during playback sadly ... along with the odd dance tunes "Shut Your Mouth" & "Lonely" that come out of nowhere & stay there aiming for the wrong audience. Nice try though. Luckily, the four new tracks that open the album make up for the weak ending. As for what to do with the dance beat experiments .... do what Savatage did and start a new band, aka Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to do that music.




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