Death By Stereo - Death Is My Only Friend
Record Label: Serjical Strike
Release Date: July 7, 2009
"This is a cry, this fucking war is mine."
Interesting choice of words coming from the only remaining original member of one of the most lauded punk bands to emerge in the last decade. Though the last man standing routine in a band usually amounts to failure, Efrem Schultz has capitalized on his band's ability to rival the turnover rate of a retail store. In the span of five releases he has fronted a punk band, a metal band, and a hardcore band. Now Schultz fronts a band that has perfected the balance between the three. Calling on the talents of former members who have, since departing from the band, entered their own noteworthy careers, Death By Stereo has created an album that has fine-tuned their attributes and delivered a massive heap of "fuck you all".
Their choice of producer yielded high standards from the start when enlisting Jason Freese (the infamous fourth member of Green Day, contributor to dozens of albums you know and love, and brother of renowned drummer Josh). What is more, early in the recording process, guitarist Dan Palmer announced that the former members the Miner Brothers would be making contributions, but kept his promises vague. As a skeptic, it was easy for me to imagine guest appearances, but what came was far more critical to the album's successes. Paul Miner teamed up with bassist Tyler Rebbe to assist in writing while also taking on the duty of mastering the album. Jim Miner does the expected by lending a hand to the writing of "The Last Song". Another noteworthy guest would be Tim "Tito" Owens, who returned to the Death By Stereo family to assist with vocals on the record. To complete the web of connections, Death Is My Only Friend is the first album did not release on the legendary Epitaph label; they've moved to Serj Tankin's (System Of A Down) vanity label, Serjical Strike.
With a handful of new players, a noteworthy production staff, and the support of a liberal label it is easy to believe that this record could have been a catastrophe. "4,3,2,1,1,2,3,4,1,1" counts down the first time punk rock has seemed genuine in a long time. From the initial anthem of punk culture ("Opening Destruction"), past the transition of introspection ("The Ballad Of Sid Dynamite"), and into the onset of the fervent political soapboxes ("Bread For the Dead" and "Fear Of a Brown Planet") it is easy to become consumed by the intensity. Shultz pinpoints his calculated blows with lyrics in "Dead To Me" ("How much is my life worth? Or was I dead at birth?"), and "Welcome To the Party" ("You will never stop me. Welcome to my party."). The concepts of the songs throughout the album are sewn together by terse comments and outright belligerence; a proclivity rarely delivered with mastery. For all intensive purposes, each track on the album shows considerable reason for the four years it took to release.
The shift in balance that Death By Stereo has undergone throughout their history tends to make each album innovating and interesting. It could be correct to assume that because the band has a revolving door type of roster that the band's sound would change from album to album, but without a mind like Shultz's the project would have been long ago abandoned. The ability for him to deride cultural fears while masterminding equally confrontational music puts him on a pedestal. Death Is My Only Friend is another chapter in what will hopefully be a tireless series.
Wow, Death By Stereo- now that's a name I haven't heard at all on this website. Thanks for reviewing this album- I had forgotten about these guys. I think the last album I have of theirs is Into the Valley of Death, and they sort of lost their luster with me. I'll have to give this new one a shot.