Strung Out – Transmission. Alpha. Delta


Artist

Album

Transmission. Alpha. Delta

Label

Fat Wreck Chords / Shock (AU)

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Rise Against - Bad Religion

Summary

After 20 years, Strung Out can still turn (and bang) heads.

Rating

75 / 100

After a six year hibernation, California’s favourite punk rock dads Strung Out are back with the slick, polished and thoughtful ‘Transmission. Alpha. Delta.’ It’s been an anxious wait for fans since 2009’s ‘Agents of the Underground’, with multiple album delays testing the patience of even ardent fans. But, as hoped, the band has yet again rewarded listeners for their loyalty with a record that takes us on a far more personal journey than what many of the Strung Out faithful would imagine.

As always with the Californian lads, expect the unexpected. Listeners will hear a very different beast to the hormonal, high speed teenagers from the ‘Another Day in Paradiseera. With 20 years of experience, Strung Out have matured into a unit that knows how to pace itself.  From the opening blips and glitches of album starter ‘Rats In The Walls’, the record moves at high, albeit not furious, pace. Drummer Jordan Burns still thrashes away like a madman, with fills and beats that will get the kids moshing and stage diving. ‘Magnolia’ and nostalgic anthem ‘Nowheresville’ are testament to this statement, with Burns proving he can still hold his own with the ever growing pool of speed-punk skinsman.

However, in cuts such as ‘Rebellion of the Snakes’ we hear a band that is happy to jog as opposed to sprint. Here, the band allows listeners to fully absorb the hooks and melodies offered by vocalist Jason Cruz, rather than scream by them in a wild frenzy.

Nearly a quarter of a century is a long time for any group to maintain their longevity – least of all a band in the less than commercially received punk vein. However, ‘Transmission. Alpha. Delta‘ doesn’t sound like a band trying to reignite the past. The core Strung Out ingredients are there. The killer harmonies on ‘Spanish Days‘ serve as one example on the album which shows that when it comes to backings, Strung Out are second to none in the genre. Jake Kiley and Rob Ramos thrash their guitars with as much youthful energy as ever. However, the band shows more of a willingness to experiment with dynamics and song structure. These songs have been carefully crafted with each riff serving a purpose – as one would hope for an album that was six years coming!

What truly sets this full-length apart from previous offerings is the memorable choruses. Standout track ‘Modern Drug’ is an example of the band employing a dynamic song structure that swells to a truly anthemic climax.  Comparatively, ‘Telsa’ takes this a step further, moving with urgency and purpose into a fantastic sing-along chorus.

Of course, having a back catalogue of 20 years doesn’t mean everything will be completely fresh. The Pantera styled riffing of ‘The Animal and the Machine’ is fun, but begins to feel a little formulaic, as does the slightly cringe worthy ‘No Apologies’. Dynamically, the band is moving forward. Yet there are still moments where it feels that the outfit wants to, but isn’t quite willing to delve further into the softer, melodic sounds. Then there is the album closer ‘Westcoasttrendkill’, a rocking finale that suffers from musical overloading. There is just too much happening. Despite this, ‘Transmission. Alpha. Delta makes for entertaining experience, with each song uniquely standing apart from the other.

Conclusion

With ‘Transmission. Alpha. Delta’, Strung Out show they are willing to take their listeners to new places, and certainly do not want to be written off as a band that repeats their own history. Despite a few setbacks, it is, overall, an album of mature, well crafted speed punk that, two decades down the track, can still win Strung Out new fans, young and old. Yes, it may alienate fans of their old style, however, as punk evolves, so has the band, and that isn’t a bad thing at all.

Tracklisting

1) Rats in the Walls

2) Rebellion of the Snakes

3) The Animal and the Machine

4) Modern Drugs

5) Black Maps

6) Spanish Days

7) Telsa

8) Nowheresville

9) Magnolia

10) Go it Alone

11) No Apologies

12) Westcoasttrendkill

 

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