Shotgun Rules - Fugitives and Refugees
Record Label: None
Release Date: October 9, 2007
Shotgun Rules have everything that makes post-hardcore meaningful. Their music has the ability to give audiences goosebumps and to move them to stand up and salute the torching guitars of Ric Mattingley and Corry Van Spronsen. The songs on their latest release Fugitives and Refugees reach the boiling temperature of molten lava and produce riverbeds that bend around the posts made by drummer Dustyn Mattingley and bassist Joe Giugno, who is no longer in the band and replaced by Zach Pero, are crowned by the soaring vocal upper-cuts and jabs of lead singer John Mackenzie. The band's chord dynamics show the perception of Senses Fail and their rhythms show the wrought-iron gating of Thursday. The band dabbles in pools of keyboard rings played by Dustyn and Corry shown in the undertow of the title track, but the band uses the keyboards sparingly. They rely heavily on Mackenzie’s vocals and the glinting sparks of the guitars and sturdy rhythm section to bring out the album's intensity and capacity for hardcore toxicity and volcanic whirlpools.
There isn't a boring moment on the album. The band keeps the chord shifts crisp and tightly sealed like in "Lifejackets are Foreboding" and their guitar flames are bountiful like in "Watch Out Laszlo Panaflex" with gang vocals furnished by Rimas Okmanas, Adam Labadie and Mike Liorti. The pick slides of "Vs" build tension as the vocals ignite the filament that sets off the flames. It's all very attractive, and the alternating vocal melody crisscrossing through "I’m Not Down Unless You're Fully Down" embellished by heated rings and heavy thuds. The deluge of power chords erupting along "Chainsaw Juggling" have a toiling worthy of Circa Survive as the movements foam up and release at the band's will. Mackenzie’s soaring vocals are chilling and the melodic showers are stunning at marshalling austere toughness with sonic beauty in "Throwing Wrenches in the Gears," and the band's stint at marshalling acoustic and rock strums in "As You Wish" produces a storybook imagery.
The lyrics also have a storybook imagery like in "Kill Me Asbestos You Can." It's a tune about making up for doing someone fatally wrong, "As it stands I've wasted too much time / Here dwelling on what once was / Even in the spotlight it fades much more quickly / I'm hanging on by a thread / I'm losing all control / As the evening fades to morning / I wipe the sleep from my eye / What would it take and where would you be without me / It fades so quickly as it passes through / But I'm already dead / And I'm way too past gone / And for this, I will repent."
Shotgun Rules makes post-hardcore as good as it gets. Produced by Steve Rizun and the band, Fugitives and Refugees has titanium-filled rhythms with whirlpools of flaming guitars and vocals that can handle it all. The production is stunning and I have to add that these guys are from London, Ontario. The city may not be known for hardcore music, but it is really sweet that Shotgun Rules know how to deliver it.