American ska: while a profitable genre in recent years, is not a style of music known for a rich amount of experimentation. However, Connecticut outfit Marx Revolution are one of the few exceptions to this rule, mixing the tradition formula of guitar upstrokes and horns with metal and hardcore. The result is fairly unclassifiable, and even the band describes themselves as playing “whatever we want.” Their debut album, Spaceship Knifefight, embodies this approach with ten songs that manage to shake up the traditions of ska music.
Certain songs on Spaceship Knifefight might make the listener think they’re listening to a Dragonforce-style metal band at first, with “Save Your Soul” featuring blistering dual lead guitars for the first 45-seconds before finally transitioning into a more traditional ska rhythm. “Red White and You” similarly sounds like something pulled from a Rise Against album until the intro ends. While this tweaking of the ska formula is very grabbing at first, it is used on so many of the songs that it becomes equally as formulaic as the majority of American ska bands anyway. Songs like “Aderol” and the album’s title track manage to escape from this repetition, but overall the monotony that the album turns into significantly drags down its quality.
Despite the lack of variation on the album, the band sound promising and are a step up from the scores of uninspired ska bands that have become popular in the last few years. If they can manage to deviate from their formula a little bit more on future releases, Marx Revolution are a band to keep an eye on. With bands like this and The Flaming Tsunamis, there may be a sign of hope for American ska.