Schoolyard Heroes – Abominations
Record Label: Stolen Transmission Records
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Horror movies make me pee my pants. I just don’t like them. I enjoy surprises as much as the next guy, but when the surprise is a half-dead, demon woman, don’t expect any help. My personal horror movie would be woefully short, as it would only be me cowering in a dark corner while the Queen of the Werewolves eats my appendages one by one. Chances are, it would go straight to video. Despite my lack of male genitalia, an album with song titles such as “Dude, Where’s My Skin?” and “All The Pretty Corpses” piqued my interest. The tales told within Abominations can get gruesome, but the flair and range of near-undead songstress Ryann Donnelly gives me just enough courage to continue on, soiled underwear and all.
Taking grimy cues from The Blood Brothers and Damone, Schoolyard Heroes mix technical guitars and piercing harmonies to create an album that’s not quite pop and not quite metal. Offsetting each catchy tune (beautiful ballad “The Last Man On Earth”) is a jam rife with chugging guitars and murderous lyrics (mathy rocker “Children Of The Night”). Abominations is diverse at best, dangerously schizophrenic at bestest. Guitarist Steve Bonell is extremely versatile, and his capable riffs (especially on post-hardcore “Razorblade Kisses”) remove all thoughts of gimmicks. It’s sad, but that’s what people tend to think when any rock band since No Doubt utilizes a female singer. And sure, Schoolyard Heroes have a dark shtick they follow throughout, but I get the feeling Ms. Donnelly means every word.
“Beautiful Woman Hunter” allows the members of Schoolyard Heroes to show off. Donnelly nearly loses her mind and voice towards the end with shrieks not out of place in some insane asylums. Brian Turner’s drums sound huge and his cymbal work is top-notch, while Bonell’s guitar drives the song from its slower portions to its chaotic, punk-ish breakdown. Jonah Bergman’s bass is less pronounced here, but his voice/scream definitely leaves an impression (see: "Plastic Surgery Hall Of Fame"). The duet between Bergman and Donnelly in closer, “Screaming ‘Theater’ In A Crowded Fire,” plays like a raunchy musical at first, and then morphs into an all-out shredfest. Bonell’s riffs continually evolve. His ability to excel at finger-gymnastics rock riffs (“All The Pretty Corpses”) and harder tracks like the just mentioned closer makes me drool in awe.
Lyrics like “If I’m not mistaken, I’ve murdered you twice before my dear / If I’m not mistaken, I’ve torn your heart out three times now / Separate the life from blood / Devastate the ones you love / Separate the skin from bone / Separate the life from soul,” may turn off some listeners. But if you allow yourself to delve into a world where stabbings and untimely deaths are the norm, you should have no trouble enjoying Abominations. Plus, the voice delivering these lyrics is so shrill and dedicated that it almost (almost) doesn’t matter what’s being said. Schoolyard Heroes may have put a few more hairs on my chest with Abominations, but don’t expect me to throw away my nightlight just yet. Yes ladies, I’m single!
Recommended If You Like: The Blood Brothers, Damone, "I can't wait for Men In Black III!!!," Iron Maiden meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs(?!), stakes
This band is amazing; I hope they finally get the credit they deserve. I saw them at CBGB June 2006, there weren't many people there [far more filed in for VAUX] and they were amazing. And the nicest people, too. They seemed amazed when I told them their album was one of my favorites of 2005, and were just so sweet.
I haven't actually heard the album yet, but your review makes this horror movie-loving girl [that's part of the appeal of this band; the lyrics are insane] want it all the more.