September 30, 2003
STRIKE ANYWHERE [I]EXIT ENGLISH[/I] REVIEW
Richmond, VA's Strike Anywhere have quietly crept up on the punk scene, diligently traveling around the country and beyond, leaving listeners worldwide in a daze of anthemic hardcore intensity. Their debut album, the invigorating "Change Is A Sound" documented a punk band that provides a powerful crunch, and still they have found it necessary to push themselves further. Looking to enhance their melodic leanings and delve deeper into their worldly beliefs, the band have enlisted the help of producer Brian McTernan (Hot Water Music, Cave In) who has uncovered new layers of depth and pop accessibility for the band to arm themselves with. Their latest triumph, "Exit English", shuns the lackadaisical stance of turning a blind eye towards the world's problems in favor of the easy to market break-up odes so common with the pop/punk genre, and instead speaks out on modern society and war with intelligence and intense determination.
Strike Anywhere have truly blossomed into one of today's most accomplished punk rock units, deftly embodying the rebellious punk spirit of discontent with the world as it stands, while instilling trace elements of pop and hardcore into the mix. By using their ability to catch one's ear the group have been endowed with the chance to postulate on society and its complications through an upbeat sing-a-long style that always feels on the brink of combustion. The structural stability their music displayed on "Change Is A Sound" is still prevalent this time around, courting rambunctious hardcore anthems with a pop sensibility. Vocalist Thomas Barnett brandishes a fiery tongue that partners vicious screams with endearing melodies, creating a verbal discourse that eschews the traditional mode of placating the masses and instead confronts society's woes head-on. This is exactly how such songs as "To The World" and "Fifth Estate" succeed in entrancing the listener in an idyllic haze of tumultuous political themes with saccharine sweet punk rock. His bold vocal stance combined with the group's increasingly melodic hardcore sound conveys a feeling of turmoil outlined with hope, and their keen sense of repetition drives these sentiments home.
Considering the sparse number of socio-political punk groups that exist today with the ability to also champion radio coverage through melodic pop deliveries, the band should be proud at just how fluid this pairing has worked. The template used so effectively here seems unusually similar to that of recent Boysetsfire, yet these men have allowed themselves to fully embrace the radio-friendly design; speaking of injustice in relatable terms that are pleasing to the ear while retaining their explosive edge. The thoughts that are expressed here are arguable and may prevent some listeners from getting caught up in the enthusiastic struggle on display, but the band are still capable of overwhelming with their infectious melodic punk. With this effort Strike Anywhere have expanded upon their aural tapestry and captured the very essence of where America finds itself today: caustically fragile, yet positively aware of its struggles and intent on finding a way to persevere. In that sense, this is an honest, unflinching album of punk rock patriotism, and another scintillating effort from one of the indie scene's hidden gems.
(3.5 / 5)
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