Much the Same follow in the tradition of the last handful of Nitro Records signings, playing a fast 90ís style melodic hardcore/skate punk, which has been notably absent in new and up-and-coming bands recently. Survive is their sophomore full length, following their 2003 debut full-length on A-F Records, Quitters Never Win. The album finds a middle ground between Rise Againstís The Sufferer and the Witness and No Use for a Nameís Hard Rock Bottom.
Opening with its most aggressive track, "The Greatest Betrayal", Survive starts out at itís heaviest, which is kind of disappointing. Usually, I would want an opener to set an albumís tone. Still, the song is good melodic hardcore, complete with rapid fire drums, slick melodies, and drums reminiscent of the Bad Religion tested, No Use for a Name approved ďforbidden beatĒ. There really isnít much to complain about.
The next two tracks, "American Idle" and "Gun Shot" respectively, offer more personal lyrics and tuneful, yet aggressive punk rock, more in tune with the rest of the album. It isnít until the sixth track that Much the Same really get off the ground, but when they do, they soar. "Skeletons" is easily Surviveís biggest track, with an infectious melody, memorable music, and uplifting lyrics about fighting your addictions and overcoming your problems. Simply put, "Skeletons" is Much the Same at their best, and really, melodic hardcore at itís best.
With the climax dead in the middle of the album, Survive has a lot of room to fall off. Luckily, Much the Same manage to keep your attention for the remainder of the album with some more relatively unique tracks. In particular, "For Those Left Behind" stands out, which sees the band persevering in a scene which has more and more been rejecting melodic hardcore in favor of pop-metal and pop-punk. Other notable tracks include "Stitches", which clearly displays front man Gun"ner McGrathís vocal range, along with the bandís heavy Rise Against influence, and the closing track, Picking Up the Scattered Pieces", which ends the album on a hopeful note, a feel good number about mending relationships between friends.
Survive is definitely another score for Nitro, whom also saw solid releases from similar acts like No Trigger, Hit the Switch, and Crime in Stereo this year. However, it does have a certain sense of sameness which keeps Survive, and Much the Same from rising above their peers. Still, Much the Same is full of potential, and Survive is certainly a solid record, outshining their debut in almost every aspect. Hereís to hoping that they can keep it up and release an even better record next time.