Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Review: Four Year Strong

Artist: Four Year Strong
Album: Rise Or Die Trying
Label: I Surrender Records
Release Date: 9.18.07

Listening to Four Year Strong makes me tired.

You might think that's a negative thing to say about a band. In this case however, it's a compliment. I get tired because I imagine all the mosh pits, gang choruses, and synchronized handclaps that a Four Year Strong show must be full of. In my mind, I'm in the pit screaming with the best of them. It's exhilarating.

Four Year Strong have blended hardcore and pop-punk beautifully with their debut album, Rise Or Die Trying. Beginning with slowly building sirens on "The Take Over," and exploding to life with "Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated," this album is a half hour of pounding adrenaline.

Songs like "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die" and "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Hell" use the double bass generously to great effect. The songs are driven by the drumbeats, and the squealing guitars are merely added emphasis.

Lyrically, the band is reminiscent of Fall Out Boy circa Take This To Your Grave. The best example of this is probably in "If He's Here, Who's Runnin' Hell?"

Take it or leave me behind / because you know that you never did care at all / my poor ears have had it / you're coming in static / Tuned out across the board / like a million times before / you're living it up now / just wait until it goes down

The similarity to Fall Out Boy doesn’t stop there – so many of the guitar riffs and vocal hooks recall pre-From Under The Cork Tree Fall Out Boy. Pete Wentz always claims to be influenced by Lifetime – Four Year Strong sound like a perfect mashup of the two bands.

The album never pauses, not even for a second. The slowest song is "Catastrophe," and even on that song, the band has only taken the speed down about half a notch. If Cartel were to suddenly start listening to a lot of Set Your Goals, they might sound like this song. Though this track slows things down a bit, Four Year Strong dive right back into the thick of it in the next few songs.

The only criticism I have of this album is there is very little variation between the songs. If you're not listening to the lyrics, the neverending breakdowns and gang vocals tend to blur together. It's clear that Four Year Strong have found a formula that works for them, and they're going to stick to it very closely. I hope that they can find a way to vary their sound more in future releases, before they run this formula into the ground.

I can imagine this album turning up in a lot of end of the year lists. And I can also imagine that a lot of other people will let Four Year Strong become their new guilty pleasure. As for me, I can't wait to catch the band on tour and finally get to take part in those mosh pits and handclaps.

01. The Take Over
02. Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated *
03. Abandon Ship Or Abandon All Hope
04. Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die *
05. Wrecked 'Em? Damn Near Killed 'Em
06. Catastrophe
07. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell
08. Bada Bing! Wit' A Pipe! *
09. Beatdown In The Key Of Happy
10. If He's Here, Who's Runnin' Hell?
11. Maniac (R.O.D.)

* - standout tracks

For Fans Of: Set Your Goals, Hit The Lights, Take This To Your Grave-era Fall Out Boy

MySpace | PureVolume

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