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Style: hardcore, thrash, punk
Home: New York City, New York
Members: Mike SOS ~ guitars/vocals
Nino Brown ~ guitars
David DeCanio ~ bass
Brett Thompson ~ drums
SOS is a punk meets thrash band making brutal music that could only come from the gutters of New York City. What is NYC music? It's impossible to define, but its dirty & thick like the city & often emphasises a groinal groove over flashy L.A. solos. It's got an attitude that isn't as menacing or lonely as one might first intuit. Living Colour, Tired Wings, Anthrax, D Generation, Twisted Sister, Cro-Mags, Blondie, Television & the early CBGB's scene come to mind as prime examples along the NYC spectrum. They all might sound completely different but there's a thread that goes through all these bands & countless others calling NYC their birthhome. Basically, they couldn't have been born anywhere else. But, NYC might be the only scene that can not be defined musically or even stereotyped. Of course, we all know that not all Scandinavian metal is black death, but when talking about this part of Europe we're all thinking about black metal. L.A. brings to mind flash, spandex & big hair. NYC? You know it when you hear it. Not all bands in NYC have the NYC feel, though. Some try to hard to be something else. That you can hear too. SOS fits very comfortably in the scene with a style that has a bit of thrash but without the speed. This is more akin to groove thrash. Though the music is different, I'm reminded of Faith No More or maybe a better comparison is Clutch. They both had a metal sound but each song was unpredictable, though staying within a particular audio mold. While SOS has a particular sound they have far more variety than many reviewers give them credit for. Repeated listens pull out the fact that this is more than just a riff rhythm/solo/rhythm band. The music churns, builds up & dives. Like Faith No More there's no predicting where each song will go, or with Clutch the rhythms are all vibrant. SOS tries to be tough sounding but aren't. The talk is tougher than the walk. But, a lot NYC bands have this wall they try to put up but really can't enforce. This weak strain is obvious in the vocals. They sound more mainstream than one might expect from such a heavy band. Some reviewers have drawn James Hetfield of Metallica comparisons, I can see that maybe in a verse here or there (i.e. "Walk Of Shame") or maybe its more apparent on earlier albums as it's a tough stretch here. The one problem is of the dozen tracks a couple (i.e. "Half Mast," "The Thing Is...", "Hypoxphilia") sound like they come from different recordings sessions with inferior production or at least different mixing, the vocals being obviously lower in the mix, while the songs are quite different & a bit more punk than what has come before. They're not bad but sound like filler, distrupting the flow. It makes one wish this was an EP of the first five songs & then an EP of the rest of the album & leave out the three odd pieces for their own release. But, actually, besides that one incentive, cutting the album in half into two EPs wouldn't be a bad idea. The songs are strong, but there is enough non-variety where there's a bit too many tracks pulling the individual distinctiveness down. It's not that the album is too long, it just could be a little tighter. But, I will say, though this style of music is not often my first choice I found I really enjoyed the album far more than I expected. I'd only heard a few tracks by the band before listening to the whole thing, but you can't judge a band or album by a few tracks ... which is why I don't share singles on this blog even though I get them sent to me. A lot of albums I review here I don't keep. I won't listen to them again. Or, I save a couple tracks & get rid of the album. But, SOS I know I'll listen to again. I think that's the best thing I can say about it & that really says more than anything else I've written so far.