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From the Ashes + DVD
From the Ashes + DVD

4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: From the Ashes + DVD (Audio CD)
Pennywise are without doubt one of the most renowned and respected punk outfits of the punk-revival of the '90s. They fuse a base of Californian hardcore with pulsing metal riffs and the catchy speed of skate punk. This has become one of the most signature sounds of the genre and pennywise have been congratulated and criticized in equal measure. Not for the development of this formula but the inherent lack of deviation form it as they have matured.
This record represents over a decade of releases culminating in this; their 8th studio album. We find Pennywise here; a little older, even wiser and still on form. While their career peaked around the time of the release of 'About Time' & 'Full Circle' they have always had a very balanced back catalogue. Therefore we have all had certain expectations for this release. So let's see if they have been met:
This album consists of 14 tracks of blistering and political anthems ranging in time between 2.40 and 3.00 minutes, they maintain a hard hitting sound with Jim Lindberg's confident rousing vocals jousting with an invisible enemy as he spits; 'What's the CIA and the NRA, they are all the same' & 'Fuck there is no excuse, anyway you loose, it's all a joke, the good old USA'; On 'God Save the USA' this is yet another record produced in hope that upon listening to it's strongly opinionated and revolutionary tracks the masses will take stock of their lives and lead each other toward a bright new future. I truly believe that is the intention; 'Our music exists solely to inspire people' states Jim Lindberg.
While that may actually never be the direct result of a Pennywise record it is still sobering stuff and makes for a rather entertaining and thoughtful listen. The most likely impact will be discussions between fellow young fans who will grow up to be influential members of society. They will then look back to those years of their youth. Remembering the messages they heard courtesy of one of the most powerful and recognized punk bands of their time.
Tracks such as; 'Now I know', 'salvation' & 'punch drunk' really do stick to formula nicely with those huge metallic riffs, most notably used by The Offspring, another so-cal punk rock outfit that chose the broaden their sound. The most accomplished song on this release is the acoustically introduced 'This Is Only A Test' which really shows off the vocal talent beyond that of the exhilaratingly rousing chants that we know and love. There is no real new ground to be found here, but I doubt the band even sought it, because if you possessed such a famous and signature sound. A sound that was well liked and respected, would you go fiddling with the dials?
In a time where the world really is heading in the wrong direction we need bands like this because soon enough the kids of today will replace the adults and a new leadership will grip humanity. When this happens we would like to feel secure in the knowledge that the government grew up on a staple diet of Pennywise.
Standout Tracks: 'God Save The USA', 'Salvation', & 'This Is Only A Test'.


One Lie Fits All
One Lie Fits All

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: One Lie Fits All (Audio CD)
The extremely artistic and hard hitting work of their second full length; 'Buy Now...Saved Later' was going to be tough to beat. This left many of us waiting, fingers crossed as they set about writing and recording their latest offering 'One Lie Fits All'. Whilst staying with their token Irish tinged political heavy rock, front man Brian (Yap) Barry has seemingly left the rap-rock sound behind him, only cropping occasionally, most noticeably in 'We Bounce'. This is a real shame as 'OMS' were without doubt the most sincere band of the genre.
At first listen this would appear to be a very slow record, dark and lumbering. This first impression is somewhat correct, 'OMS' have really chilled right out with only the odd frenzied onslaught of guitar. Gone are those fast paced shotgun raps and bristling riffs. I read in an interview that; 'This record has been entirely written on weed' and it shows. 'Price Of The King's Ticket' & 'The Hill Is A Hole' are filled with swirling and alluring melodies that carry Brian's urgent, yet very relaxed messages until he briefly explodes forth, emphasizing a point before slipping back into tranquility.
'The Hill Is A Hole' takes the atmosphere of 'Holy Man' and creates a twinkling backdrop of guitar and bass to compliment some extremely impressive vocals, ones that will really get your head spinning with a corrupt series of emotions that you have no control over. Surely the standout track and one which despite its slightly dreary surroundings flies the flag of hope for this fine British artist.
You may well find yourself thinking it has reached half way, when in reality has only hit track 3, where there was variety before there is now a mundane sludge of guitars and broken melodies. This record would be far more satisfying if it were from a different band, a debut perhaps. But after hearing what this band has created before, the sheer brilliance and variety of their work, it makes it difficult to enjoy this album, even on repeat listens. My advice would be; get their far superior second album 'Buy Now...Saved Later' and begin from there.. If on the other hand, you would like a chilled out, moody, slightly repetitive record full of thoughtfully written lyrics and information then get your hands on this.
Standout Tracks: 'I Wear My Skin', 'We Bounce' & 'The Hill Is A Hole'.


Regaining Unconsciousness
Regaining Unconsciousness
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: £7.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This EP is basically a taster. One designed to give an impression of what is to come this April, in the shape of a brand new 14 track 'NOFX' LP; 'The War On Errorism'. This has been eagerly awaited, especially given the success of 'Pump Up The Valuum'. This is a perfectly respectful EP, perhaps a little on the short side. It features 5 tracks. Only one of which will not feature on the forthcoming full length offering. Leaving it as the only exclusive song you will obtain with this purchase. This has its up and downsides.
Firstly if you are not a particularly huge 'NOFX' fan or you are new to this band. You may wish to start with an older release, perhaps 'White Trash...' or 'Heavy Petting Zoo' these are much more representative of their sound and humor. If on the other hand you are a die hard fan then you will want every release and snippet of audio you can lay your hands on. This release is far more suited to people of this nature than any other. Basically if you are going to be buying the album then why pay for four of the tracks twice?
That said, you do get a sneak peek at some very accomplished, though in some ways disappointingly sober punk rock masterpieces. This EP is in much the same vein as 'The Decline' as far as its overall sound and arrangement. If you liked that release you will love this one, otherwise try before you buy.
Songs such as 'Mediocore' and 'Franco Un-American' contain inpressive4 and catchy time changes, with subtle and mad caddies' styled bass lines. With more ska riffs, reminiscent of songs form previous releases like; 'Food, Sex & Ewe'. These are interlaced with the bands darker inherently sober sound harking back to the days of 'Punk In Drublic'.
There is a good selection here and some exclusive elements to attract your attention and try your patience as the wait for the new full length continues. So I say submit, give in and go and pick this up. It has great artwork so it will look good in your collection plus a highly amusing radio advert style track with 'El Hefe' taking the role of the DJ. Surely if anyone can convince you to purchase 'NOFX' gear it is him...
Standout Tracks: 'Mediocore'& 'Hardcore 84'


War on Errorism
War on Errorism
Price: £12.86

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: War on Errorism (Audio CD)
It has been bestowed upon myself to review the latest offering from those punk stalwarts NOFX. It seems strange to me to have journeyed from listening to NOFX records such as ‘Heavy Petting Zoo’ & ‘White Trash…’ as a kid to being sent a promotional copy of their latest and most hyped release to date. So here goes nothing lets see if I can take all that I have learned and give you a real and fair perspective on this album.
NOFX have always been one of those bands where half of their records will be instant hits to you and the rest will be disappointments that grow, slowly but surely into triumphs in your eyes. ‘The War On Errorism’ is one of the latter. With amusing cover art and multimedia content, plus some catchy and exciting songs throughout. There is however special something missing that made ‘Pump Up The Valuum’ instantly listenable and loved. While there is care and attention to detail there is still that strange new sound that first aired, long ago on ‘Punk In Drublic’ then once again bowed its head until ‘The Decline’ and now here it is again. Tracks such as ‘The Irrationality Of Rationality’ are perfect examples of this slightly darker and unvarying sound.
Fortunately this release takes steps in either direction going from the explosive and rather pleasing riffery and structure of the opening track to the aforementioned song right back to the third and perhaps most accomplished song aired on this CD ‘Franco-Unamerican’; With its tongue in cheek lyricism and catchy little touches that bounce their way through your speakers giving you that feeling that this song is special.
This I feel is the key to this album, which songs come across as special and which just defy that NOFX vision of past years and skip by in a rush of uncreative guitars and depressing lyrics. They seem to have arranged this album with this in mind, with every bouncy airy track having an equal and opposite ‘Decline-esq.’ song to follow in its wake. Song such as ‘Mattersville’ & ‘American Errorist’ are reminiscent to tracks from the ‘Pods & Gods’ release with their poignant yet catchy hooks and lyrical styling.
This is the most interesting example of a mid career ‘concept album’ I have ever heard. I assure you that ‘TWOE’ is exactly that, a band in the throws of a musical transition that has been long in the building and slow in the finalizing. Each track fights its case against equally opposing songs that defy the flow of this record. You will find yourself with mixed feelings concerning this album simply because that is the nature of its existence. There is a little bit of everything on here, and although NOFX have always been eclectic this is much more than that.
Overall this album has some enjoyable moments including opening track ‘The Seperation Of Church & Skate’, ‘Franco Unamerican’ & ‘Mattersville’ but the rest is an outsiders view into something very personal, in terms of style, creativity and strength of character. The direction that NOFX will take next will be the decider because I guarantee their next LP will be the deciding factor in the civil war of sound that is ‘The War On Errorism’.
Standout Tracks: ‘The Seperation Of Church & Skate’, ‘Franco Unamerican’ & ‘Mattersville’


Dark Room Vernissage
Dark Room Vernissage

3.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Dark Room Vernissage (Audio CD)
With this release, Nitrojuice are taking the post-hardcore and pop-emo genres and adding a lemony European twist to the bitter sweet cocktail. Their onslaught is biting and layered as they delve into the social commentary of; ‘overdrive emphasizing common sense of living’ in – ‘Hanging One A While’. There are definite similarities to A.F.I to be drawn from the vocal style and lead guitar on opener; ‘Bodifixer’. However this is no poor rehash as the style sits well with their trebly and edgily produced sound.
The lyrics are un-surprisingly cryptic, their style and structure is laced with ambiguity. However the final vocalization of the aforementioned lyrics is pleasing, whilst the indistinct words appear soothing if not a little vague. On the other hand the percussion is very solid and embodies a raw sense of power. However that power is far more of an angsty teen power; as opposed to that exhibited by a fireman rescuing a rabid feline from a tree wearing nothing but a tightly fitting overall. The sparkling and tense relationship based ballad - ‘Once I Tried’ is a fine example of the precise, if slightly repetitive drumming.
I have witnessed many releases similar to this in both looks and sound: the weakly colored rather effeminate artwork and the angst ridden, emotional half sing, half scream structure. However there is something rather endearing about this long EP. I feel it has something, some special ingredient that gives it that kick, that rebellious aftertaste. Because of that, the pulsing stop start guitar of; ‘Back To Old Rhythms’ becomes so much more meaningful and catchy than an almost identical song by another band such as; Further Seems Forever.
This EP is a finely executed musical experience – precise, calculating, pretty and every bit as cold as ice. While it may not offer the most memorable or intensely invigorating listening experience; it certainly and without a doubt - outshines its contemporaries.
Standout Tracks: ‘Bodyfixer’, & ‘Once I Tried’.


For The Love Of Music
For The Love Of Music
Offered by westworld-
Price: £8.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: For The Love Of Music (Audio CD)
Mike Park is best known for being head of Asian Man Records; a DIY label that he still runs from his garage. Mike however has more than one talent. He is a good song writer and warm vocalist. This fact bring me to the subject of this review; his album 'For The Love Of Music'. A title that sits very comfortably beside his reputation on a bench staring happily out from a peer on a wind blown yet clear day. What I like most about this record is the warmth his voice offers; it reminds me somewhat of Tim Pagnotta's the singer from Sugarcult.
This showcase of 11 acoustic songs is a journey through his very open thoughts and feelings. This can sometimes be so clear it is disturbing yet most of the time it feels like an open door of discovery into another person's soul. This is rare and this alone makes this release worthwhile.
The album opens with a 'Time Of Your Life' by Green Day style guitar and string part that drips with nostalgia and a calm feeling of observation with just the hint of unease in the pre chorus of 'Where did you go, where did you really go. I'm supposed to be there too...' This song touches on the softness, love and camaraderie that can seed in the hostile environments of skinheads and gangs. 'On that stage' follows with its extremely catchy and upbeat arrangements and vocal tenderness.
'Counting Sheep' & 'Challenging Me' are once again subdued and slightly less optimistic with the way they are arranged and how they deal with their subject matter. They are full of interesting messages about family and disillusion but disappoint slightly as far as sound and delivery are concerned. 'Just Like This' is a step back to form for Mike and is a mighty acoustic number about bravery, belief and strength of heart; 'Armed With Passion, he can think here for himself' & 'Tough guy lends a fighting hand to weaker men.'
Mike as many of you will know is very well versed in his knowledge and action against racism. Being a Korean in the USA has no doubt had an effect on this and makes what he says all the more believable and meaningful. One of, if not the most outstanding track on the album has to be; 'From Korea' with lines like; A new acquaintance I met last week, used the word nigger casual speak, he said don't worry you're not like them, you may be Chinese but your just like me' & 'I don't need a racist friend, and I'm not like you I'm from Korea, my eyes are small but you eyes are closed.'
The album dips again into the less catchy style he often delves into. There is more feeling with this but the music can be a little cold and disjointed. However; The album's final track more than makes up for the lull as it is powerful yet catchy, a fine mix with lines like; 'It's true when racism eludes, the slanting of the eyes and they don't bother me anyways'. This is preceded by some wonderful vocal harmonies in the latter half of the chorus and tops off a really moving and fantastic acoustic album.
This album makes you feel, genuinely feel a connection with its creator. This is an amazingly rare occurrence. Therefore I suggest you pick yourself up a copy; even if you don't like acoustic songs, because you will find yourself somewhere in these 11 tracks. Plus the fact that - 'A portion of the proceeds earned by the artist and Sub City from the sale of this title will be donated to the Plea For Peace Foundation.'
Standout Tracks: 'On That Stage', 'Just Like This', 'From Korea' & 'Present Day Memories'.


Maxeen
Maxeen
Price: £9.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemeregncy.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Maxeen (Audio CD)
Maxeen’s debut album is marvelous. It appears on the ever resplendent Side One Dummy records: A Label that is swiftly filing through the ranks to head the charge of punk and rock in 2004.
Maxeen mix 70’s punk with the finesse of power pop thus creating a bouncy, sweet fusion of music that is slightly reminiscent of The Police. However where Sting’s voice remains dry; Tom Bailey’s vocals build on that sound by sugarcoating the notes and often helping the band to ascend into the styles once honed by U2. This music is aggressively beautiful and creates a star vehicle for the wry and sensual lyrics.
The album opens with the most memorable and instantly adorable song on offer here; ‘Please’ with its forceful and melodic sentiment of equal hurt and hope. Lines like; ‘Please promise me today that you’ll feel…’ & ‘Desensitized, the young will grow to not feel much of everything’ demonstrate thoughtful writing as they juxtapose such attractive melodies with the accusing lyricism. Throughout this record there are occasional and unexpected brash chords and drumming that heartily punctuate the songs when necessary. However this is far from anything melodic you have heard lately. Maxeen are no Movielife or Funeral For A Friend that is for certain; they are far more expressive and mature. At this level it isn’t how much you scream that matters, it is when you don’t and still manage to emotionally affect the listener. ‘A heart that used to work is now covered with dust’ from ‘Delete Lola’ a twist on the age old break up song that will surely be harnessed by many a broken hearted individual. Perhaps to aid a speedy recovery from the wounds of a relationship that has recently flat-lined.
‘Poison June’ is a feel good song that is oddly full of pain and nostalgia. Imagine a laid back Sugarcult jamming with Jane’s Addiction. The product of which is a subtle guitar undertow dragging an off kilter yet heart warming vocal out to a place far from land where it sees its fate; accepting and embracing it. They demonstrate a keen knowledge of their genres with the foot stomping unashamedly clichéd; ‘Shuffle My Feet’. This is a style that is normally far more associated with the likes of the Supersuckers. Yet it is a success whilst remaining exuberant and unabashedly to the point. It certainly creates a fun introduction to the once again up beat final stretch of the album.
The album does experience a slight lull in the middle that can prove a little off-putting when you first reach it. The midsection songs like ‘Soleil’ lack the energy and sparkle that make the majority of this album so charming. However if you persevere you will not be disenchanted. The pace and flamboyance significantly increase once again towards the end with songs like; ‘Get Away’ matching the unquestionably strong first few songs beat for beat.
Maxeen have produced a fine album; one that I have found to be moving, inspiring and entertaining. This debut work proves to be quite a nostalgic innovation; taking old ideas and refreshing them to the very core. A distinctive and joyous breathe of fresh air in a year drowning in repetitive and unchanging styles.
Standout Tracks: ‘Please’, ‘Strangers’ & ‘Shuffle My Feet’.


West for Wishing
West for Wishing

4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: West for Wishing (Audio CD)
Matchbook Romance are an exciting new signing to the Epitaph label. Stumbled upon and signed by its very owner Brett Gurewitz Who has followed up his investment by producing their debut EP. This was all the product of a successful internet and word of mouth campaign conducted by the band them selves.
They have a sound that when described on paper resembles the melodic-hardcore trend of late. Once this EP is spinning in your stereo on the other hand, the truth of their musical arrangement and Brett’s production become clear. This is emotional and deep without loosing any of it’s progressive forward motion as it blast through it’s 5 tracks before it is sorely missed until play is hit for the umpteenth time.
The song ‘The Greatest Fall – (of all time)’ is a vastly intelligent and poignant look at a failing relationship; highly impressive in ones so young. ‘You pick me apart, while I search for witty things to say (in my defense)’ is a line listeners the world over will be able to indulge in many times throughout their lives.
This EP is full of emotional and twinkling melodies and vocal harmonies that despite bands like ‘Thursday’ are yet to sound stale. With a powerful and fast rhythm section that can and is called upon at just the right moment Matchbook Romance have that powerful but not juxtaposed bed of sound to carry the vocals whilst giving them weight and complimentary pushes forward when necessary.
Special mention must go the artwork and general feel of the supplied EP case. It is good to see a band/label producing good quality goods that go beyond the audio on the disc and are pleasing to the eye. It is an entire package that you can be proud to own.
If this is any indication as to the sheer talent Matchbook Romance possess then it is surely no surprise that Brett Gurewitz snapped them up so fast and is evidently behind them every step of the way. Finally a gleaming new hope for the future of melodic-hardcore!
Standout Tracks: ‘The Greatest Fall’ & ‘Farewell To Friends’.


More Seduction
More Seduction

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
This review is from: More Seduction (Audio CD)
I must admit that I was to feel fairly dubious about this record, upon reading its title. Then I started to listen to it and found that once again that age old saying; 'You mustn't judge a book by its cover' goes for records too. This record is reminiscent of 'Blondie' with a hint of 'PJ Harvey'. This is all packaged into a tight updated sound.
With the palm muted riffs of the first track, you know this is not going to be a singer driven work, despite the name. Then again, you can also tell that this is going to be a cynical, classy and shimmering collection of tracks, which will lead you through a journey of love, life and escapism. This year looks set to be an excellent one for women in the punk genre, it seems they have finally found their feet. Acts such as; 'Tuuli', 'Fabulous Disaster' and 'M&TM', are all getting set to take over.
This new fad will generate a lot of media attention. No doubt it will also spawn some far from legitimate imitations. That said if you catch this early you will be able to pick up the key founding artists of this new wave of female punk rock. That is of course before it becomes diluted and meaningless; as many have before it.
Lines Like: A walk along the edge would really feel ok, making life worthwhile it really makes the day: Can be surprisingly inspiring, especially when delivered with the super sweet vocals of one who seems to know more about the world than she lets on.
This record is catchier than the syphilis in Bangkok and much more satisfying! Each song rolls out of your speakers with swirling lead and simple but effective percussion. The use of guitar really compliments the singing; this record is primarily a star vehicle for the singer Manda, as with Avril Lavigne. This is not necessarily a bad thing as this is one talented young woman. The syrupy lead vocals give way to warm buzzing and sometimes aggressive guitars giving it a tonal appeal with many different layers.
This album is for those who have either found or lost love, or those who want a knowing female perspective on life and romance. With some excellent music to carry it along at a steady but relaxed pace. I think this will be a welcome treat for any 'Blondie' fans who would like to hear the next generation of that sound they first developed.
Sugary female fronted punk rock without the need for a chaser.
Standout Tracks: 'Dangerous', 'Wanna Go Home', 'Fast Cars' & Sudden Atraction'.


Meteora (Enhanced UK Version)
Meteora (Enhanced UK Version)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars www.stateofemergency.net, 13 Feb. 2004
Hype, expectation and cynicism have fuelled the various discussions surrounding this follow up to Linkin Park’s platinum selling debut. The subject of much speculation, this record has been kept tightly locked up throughout the production process. No internet piracy for these gentlemen, the ones who can afford it most ironically can afford it least; with their last album losing millions of sales due to piracy.
The first thing you will wish to know is whether this latest offering has lived up to, or far excelled their first and phenomenally successful release. In terms of sound, style and aggression the answer is yes. That said in terms of sheer creativity the answer is a debatable maybe.
When you slip this into your stereo you will be hit head on by that customary Linkin Park sound. There is no bold, yet career damaging style change evident here, unlike Papa Roach’s second release. There is unparalleled depth and clarity, as always. The samples will swirl and twist, expertly mixed and crafted. Once again the trade off lyrics are shredding through the songs, complimenting one another and succeeding in navigating new heights of emotion. This is perhaps a band that could have gone in a slightly different direction if they had wanted. This has been noted in other reviews. That said something tells me they are extremely happy with the way they make their music and the product of that creative process.
Perhaps this time around there is more poetry and less feeling. Like a reading, of a reading; what has strengthened is the musical harmonies and structure. It is gentle and hard in exactly the right places. This band was always a complex listen. There is an element of originality that sparkles through on tracks like: ‘Don’t Stay’, ‘Hit The Floor’ & ‘Faint’. The most notable improvement is in the field of sampling: Joe Hahn & Mike Shinoda have laboured long and hard in the back of their tour bus as it journeyed across the world in support of their debut release.
Lyrics such as; ‘Sometimes I need to remember just to breathe, sometimes I need to stay away from me’. Indicate there is much left to explore in Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda’s sub consciousness. There is poetic quality here, along with many a provoked thought. That said if you just want to sit and relax to a well arranged, produced & musically sound album then you need look no deeper.
The sound and arrangement is tighter than ever. This is slicker than a cormorant in an oil slick, with album sleeve and artwork to match. Such pride has gone into this. Little touches such as notes for each song really make this a worthy purchase.
Standout Tracks: ‘Don’t Stay’, ‘Hit The Floor’, ‘Somewhere I Belong’, ‘Numb’ & ‘Faint’.


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