Thursday, October 26, 2006

too hardcore for school

"Unifying Themes Redux" (reissue)
(Hydra Head)

Senses Fail
"Still Searching"

I thought it would be fun to review these two releases at the same time because they both are indictative of the two biggest trends to hit hardcore in the last few years. Botch was one of the bands that pioneered the math-metal tinge that made hardcore even more aggressive, while on the other end of the spectrum, Senses Fail's brand of screamo-ing made it cool for both goths and cheerleaders to sing along to songs about pirates and the breaking of one's heart.

Undoubtedly, without Seattle's Botch, there would be no Norma Jean, Fear Before the March of Flames, and countless other bands that are too crappy to name (The Chariot, for one more). This re-re-release of their collection of singles contains two of the best Botch songs ever committed to vinyl: 1. "Frequenting Mass Transit," which was featured in the Seattle-based, Outsiders-rip off film "The Edge of Quarrel." 2. "Rock Lobster," a spazzy version of the B-52s classic pop record. These two songs are no doubt the highlight of the compilation; there are other great songs on this, mind you, but these two make the comp worth buying. Otherwise, I would recommend "American Nervoso" as your introduction to the band.

Unlike Botch, Senses Fail walks past the entertaining -- if not mildly obscene -- notion of covering an 80's pop hit and goes straight for the brooding introspective heart of your average high school emo kid. Yet, with their frequent label changes and overhyped charisma, the band still manages to have at least four or five stand out songs per record. Like genre brethren, Silverstein, Senses Fail know how to write these great lead guitar riffs, thus boosting the technical aspects of the band to Eddie Van Halen status.

Their latest record "Still Searching" has a few great songs on it ("All the Best Cowboys," "Shark Attack," "Sick Or Sane," "Calling All Cars," "Still Searching"), other than those, this is pretty much what you'd expect from a band that has its shirts for sale at Hot Topic. It's not a terrible record at all, but it's easily forgettable.


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