It was a dark day last year when Rise Against, one of the melodic hardcore punk bands that I believed to be fantastic despite it's mainstream success, abandoned me for the radio waves on their new release. Thank God for Strike Anywhere to come in a year later and show me that it's not hopeless.
This new CD does what every band tries and usually fails to do. They keep the sound fresh and new without leaving their roots behind. If you only listened to the CD once in your life you might overgeneralize by saying that it sounds like a grittier, messier Dead FM, which by itself is pretty awesome. However upon multiple listens it becomes aparent that this CD really has so much more to offer us. There are super fast and short numbers like "Invisible Colony" and "Spectacular," something Dead FM really only had a few of and then there are the poppier but not too poppy songs like "The Crossing" and "Blackbirds Roar" where they let the melody lead the song.
What makes this album go above and beyond are the little things that seperate it from Dead FM. There are more tempo changes and crunchy guitar work to keep us guessing, and instead of the oh-so-cliched breakdown that plagues the hardcore scene today, Strike Anywhere uses the middle of their songs to throw much catchier bridges with lots of fist pumping catchy hooks on songs like "Hand of Glory" (hooks instead of two toned breakdowns? Are we on to something here?) If there is any weakness anywhere on this album it might be the lack of definitive basslines, but that is a minor complaint when taken with everything else.
Lyrically we are at the pinnacle of Thomas's poetic ability, especially if you go to the link off their website where he explains exactly what each song is about. This helps confirm the realization that this is the most passionate number from these guys ever. Whether it be the quasi-single "I'm Your Opposite Number" that manages to be poppy and grungy at the same time, or "Western Scale" with its seemingly harmless verses that give way to an in your face chorus, this CD is in a category all of its own.
So get it, get it now, get it now and play it loud because you're almost guaranteed to love it. Their older work, especially "Change is a Sound" were good, but this could be their breakthrough album, and it came at the perfect time. This new CD and "Grey Britain" by Gallows are the only two CD's keeping hardcore alive in 2009.