Strike Anywhere - Iron Front
Release Date: September 6, 2009
Record Label: Bridge Nine Records
As an avid baseball fan, I am proud to declare Ichiro Suzuki of my beloved Seattle Mariners as one of the finest, most reliable players in the game. His strategy could be seen as almost superstitiously repetitive, however it works for him. He continues to crank out record numbers, and his statistics are above nearly every other major leaguer out there. You see, even when he has a "down year," you believe his traditional strategy will break his rut and put him back where he belongs. Never seems to fail us loyalists.
Like Ichiro, Strike Anywhere has been around now for awhile, always sticking with the same basic aggressive formula of chaotic melodies over Thomas Barnett's impassioned cries. Essentially, the band has remained a viable fabric in the melodic hardcore stitching, like a more articulate Goldfinger and if Rise Against were still pissed off. For their long-anticipated Bridge Nine debut, Iron Front, one would expect Strike Anywhere to heed their Jade Tree momentum and seize the day on a group of songs built on the platform of dominating punk rock. Blame it on said reliability, but on LP number four, Strike Anywhere has flatlined.
Part of the problem is the need for variance, as Brian McTernan steps in to produce once more. Like John Feldmann with Goldfinger, it stymies a band's sound and halts the occurrence of any advancement or growth. Iron Front is a title that rings with bitter anger, but stalls after only a few songs due to how little everything divides itself. At just under 30 minutes, it's important for a band to skip over how fast everything is and focus on some finesse as well -- and after three previously entries that are some of the most stirringly powerful melodic hardcore you'll ever lay ears on, Iron Front is a dire disappointment. Hell, two of the best tracks the band recorded during these sessions were put on the "teaser" EP!
After the double-strike of "Invisible Colony" and "I'm Your Opposite Number," everything else begins blending together -- and honestly, after several two-minute ragers in a row, it becomes difficult to remember which song is which. Sure, "Summerpunks" is a blazing pop-punk scorcher, and "Last Will and Testament" survives on the power of Barnett's honest delivery, but despite some hints of sunlight, this is a record without much life to it. After all, Barnett is still a dedicated songwriter and hearing him scream "Fuck no" on "Hand of Glory" makes you tremble with a smidgen of pleasure. Lest we forget how truly talented the band behind him are: Eric Kane continues to pulverize the drumkit, but new guitarist Matt Smith isn't given any time to show what he can bring to the table. Garth Petrie and Mark Miller walk a familiar line here, and it feels like McTernan's production -- while normally lovely -- is going through the motions on this record (this is, after all, their fourth record working with him).
Strike Anywhere is a band that has yet to overstay their welcome and can make a better record than this; Dead FM proved that even with a label switch, they could maintain the integral core of their organic & abrasive sound. All we have here are thirteen tracks that just leapfrog each other without any commitment. Consider bringing a new producer aboard, and you've got your return to form -- but after three long years, Iron Front is a miracle in poor execution and fails to gather any true grit from a hardcore sound that offers little to no separation between itself. We all hit our slumps, and Strike Anywhere have yet to show any reason as to why recovery is not an option.
Totally disagree. Top 5 of the year material in my opinion.
This record carries a completely different tone than any other SA record, but absolutely still sounds like them. Same reason I really liked the new Taking Back Sunday record (that everyone seemed to hate).
The last few songs are so huge, unlike anything they've ever done. Even the two b-sides from the EP are among their strongest material.
This album is growing on me a little bit, but as mentioned -- lacks the "bite" of their previous records. That being said? I can't wait to watch them play "Chorus of One" and "Infrared" at the Fest this year!