Outcry - Join the Riot
Record Label: Cal-Rock Records
Release Date: March 22, 2007
West Texas band Outcry's five song EP Join the Riot is a case study in how shoddy production and mixing can make a promising band sound mediocre. Vocalist Christopher Lee has an above average voice that is earnest, pleading, and sorrowful; moreover the band's guitars are visceral, cascading, and impactful. The only problem is Lee's voice is almost impossible to hear.
Whether the disc was mixed poorly, put together on a tight budget, not carefully planned, or just washed out by the sonic density of the other band members, it's an alarming and puzzling journey to sit through. No matter how much the speakers are turned up and various knobs are twisted, the words are still drowned out, and that is the biggest disappointment of all. Without a lyric booklet, the listener is left hopelessly confused. Studio albums are supposed to showcase all aspects of the band's sound, and on Join the Riot, everything but the vocals take center stage.
Stylistically the band straddles a line somewhere between pop punk and progressive rock. The latter part may be a stretch, but the effective use of synthesizers on two of the songs gives the band a bit of the prog vibe. The EP's first two songs "Suitcase" and "Closer" are heavily melodic in a California pop/punk mentality and have a sound that could land them on a compilation disc. The album's latter songs have stronger layered elements that display a mature and engaged songwriting process. Aside from the vocal deficiencies, the record is also very scatterbrained. In various places the band sounds cohesive and tightly-knit, and the precision they bring to the table feels as if they have been playing together for years. Yet at other moments they appear to be tripping over their chords and stumbling, most notably on fourth song "Erase."
The album's closer, "My Allusion," is easily their best, as it deviates away from the pop/punk mentality and goes for the soul. Every band attempts to reach out and touch their listeners, and of all the songs on the EP, none of them are as effective as this one. On "My Allusion," the band is crisp, fluid, and boasts a presence that deserves attention and respect. One can only hope Outcry chase down that vibe on their next release.