March 9, 2004
CHALLENGER [I]GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT IN LETHAL DOSES[/I] REVIEW
This is pummeling, high-octane melodic hardcore, fleshed out with vocal harmonies, mildly tricky structures, and lyrics that addresses the state of the world (e.g. "We've got too much time on our hands / To handle the amount of time our hands are dangling by our sides"). There's no small amount of passion here, a more-than-capable dynamism borne out of a digestion of Hüsker Dü and Minutemen records, and a wealth of melodic energy. However, while Challenger come across as a band for whom the word "emo" is equivalent to a categorical stake through the heart, it's anyone's guess why they've chosen to spend their entire debut CD pandering to that term's every whim. For instance, when "Brand Loyalty" attempts the dissection of a "flawed relationship" dynamic by setting a deadpan boy/girl feud against a punchy, wriggly punk backdrop, the enduring impression is of a Dashboard B-side or a misjudged Rites Of Spring emulation by, say, Brand New.
Whatever's lacking in originality, however, is more than made up for in delivery. The band, which features Milemarker's Al Burian and Dave Laney, displays a devastating tightness, the album's writhing energy underscoring their refusal to sit still. Not only that, but for a record composed entirely of anthemic punk stompers (the only moment approaching restraint being the brisk closer "The Trojan Horse"), it's an unabashed triumph of brevity. It may be preaching to the converted, so to speak, but there's enough here to ensure Challenger the loving audience of die-hards that this kind of unbridled energy rewards.
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