Sound — 7
Until releasing this album "The Flatliners" were known for their unique brand of in your face ska-punk, coming at you with blistering fast lyrics, heavily distorted guitars, even featuring some guitar and bass riffs, and quick moving drums. "The Flatliners" have made some departure in the 'basic' (I use this term as lightly as possible, I love ska music to death, but it is rather basic sounding normally) and brought more of the distorted guitar and guitar riffs along for this ride. The guitars are very harsh and distorted, and the bass, especially when playing by itself, is a punk players dream tone (at least, its my dream tone) and Cresswell's voice, is throaty and thrashy sounding as ever; a fantastic addition to the album. The guitars use distorted barre chords with other added parts in other guitar parts, to create a very large sound coming from the two guitars and bass. The drums on this album are something interesting to talk about. I have found that this recording has a, 'flat' sound to the kit, particularly the snare drum. The kick drum still pounds through, and the cymbals shimmer out when necessary, but that snare, has this odd flat sound, it seemingly works with the recording, but I think it could sound better. The pacing of the album, is done quite well. With "July! August! Reno!" giving you a wakeup slap in the face as soon as the album starts, but this song seemingly ends on an odd chord, which is particularly weird for the first song on an album. However, the listener is quickly treated to a grand experience as the final chord of "July! August! Reno!" acts as a transitional chord into the beginning of "Eulogy" one of the most well known songs from the album and "The Flatliners" in general. Moving through later to another of their greatest songs, "This Respirator", a move back to a slower song, more representative of the older days of this band. Later in the album "This Is Giving Up" plays, and as it ends, it seems to slow off right near the end, as it transitions perfectly into "Mastering The World's Smallest Violin"'s beginning acoustic chords. The song building to the end. The album stops for the beginning of "Hal Johnson Smokes Cigarettes" and then moves into the most different song on the album, "KHTDR". This song is one of the best on the album, featuring the interesting rhythmic concept of the beginning guitar riff, horns later in the song, the signature large sounding chords of this album and some great singing by Cresswell. There is some meaning behind the title, however, only "The Flatliners" and a few others know. When asked they have responded saying "If you know what this stands for, there are already people out to kill you". So no one is finding out anytime soon! Overall the sound of this album is quite good, some songs are fantastic, and others while still good, are not up to par with all of the rest of the songs on this album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on this album, while not as groundbreaking as the sound, are still a very welcome change from the teenage angsty, slightly anarchical lyrics of "Destroy To Create" and are still great. From the "Eulogy" over a loss of a friend, to the tour times in "This Respirator" stating 'These four wheels feel like home to me". All the while "Meanwhile In Hell..." you should "Listen close, with your ear to the ground as El Diablo stirs this place comes crashing down, and though these evil ways, once renowned as straight outta hell, have been replace by human will... There is a way out!". When we reach the end of "Mastering The World's Smallest Violin" we get to some of the best lyrics, and manner of singing, with Cresswell's raspy, throaty voice fitting perfectly as he sings the final time "Hold on for dear life, My hands are blue and I... I've never been so cold, I've never felt this way before...". Some of the best vocals arguably come during "KHTDR". When the band really kicks in (laying a swift kick to the face) Cresswell screams, with the help of gang shouts, stating "We scratch these walls that we have built, This disbelief is useless, We pull these stakes we've driven in, And I'm pumped dry, can you see it?" Cresswell's voice has become much better on this album, though he has left the machine gun quick lyrics of "Destroy To Create" these lyrics are more thought out, and sung so very well.
Overall Impression — 8
This middle addition to "The Flatliners" albums, is a great one indeed, and well worth the money to purchase. I love the sound that they have achieved on this album, though I still believe that the drums have a 'flat' feeling to them, and although I wish this could be fixed, it is not so detrimental that it destroys the album, quite far from that in fact. The lyrics are grand, the riffs are plenty enough, with a great guitar sound, with awesome bass, great drumming, and absolutely awesome vocals. If this album was stolen, I would most definitely buy it again, and would be more than happy to support such a fantastic band. My favourite songs from this album are "Hal Johnson Smokes Cigarettes", "KHTDR", "Eulogy", fan favourite "This Respirator" and "Meanwhile In Hell...". I believe that this album brings a fresh new idea to not only "The Flatliners" sound but also as to what can be done with ska-punk music.