Man Alive - Open Surgery
Release Date: September 6, 2005
Record Label: The Militia Group
If you think Useless ID has the market cornered on Israeli pop punk, you’d better think again. Hailing from Jerusalem, Israel, Man Alive plays some of the best punk-infused rock I’ve heard in a long time—The Militia Group has struck gold yet again. Full of raw energy, shout-alongs, plentiful vocal and guitar harmonies, and great pop songwriting, Man Alive’s Open Surgery is exactly the album you need as the summer starts to winds down.
I don’t really know older punk/pop punk all that well (shit, there goes my ‘cred,’), but from what I do know of the genre, Man Alive wouldn't have too much trouble fitting in. Somewhat like Millencolin and Face to Face, but much poppier, I can see this album appealing to both more “traditional” punk fans (I’m not talking about Casualties-type stuff here) as well as pop rock fans. Don’t get me wrong, Open Surgery definitely leans towards the pop side of things—it’s just that it’s not totally glossy, overproduced, and cheesy, so that’s why I see this album as having the potential to please both crowds.
My favorite song on the album, “Give Me a Sign” is an up-tempo, aggressive, guitar-heavy song, complete with gang vocals and harmonies—the perfect way to kick the album off. The vocal harmonies in the verses are orgasm-inducing (if you’re into that sort of thing), the choruses and bridge are really catchy (“HEY (shouted), there’s always a reason”), and there’s a fun half-time breakdown thrown in to get your head nodding. “Say What You Want,” undoubtedly a pop rock song, slows things down just a bit, and shows the duality of Man Alive and their ability to switch from fast paced aggressive songs to slower, more pop based stuff.
After “Give Me a Sign,” things do tend to slow down a bit (I'm talking about tempo, not song quality—the title track "Open Surgery" is a great, catchy pop song) for a while until we get to the middle of the album and “Catch Phrases, Slogans and Chants,” a heavily punk-based song that might appeal to fans of A Wilhelm Scream and the like. The rest of the album finishes out with a mix of faster and mid-paced songs. Every song on the album is solid, that’s for sure, and Man Alive does a nice job mixing things up between the aggressive stuff and the pop songs throughout the CD.
The production (Ed Rose at the helm) is definitely nice and raw—the only real complaint that I might have is that the drums are too loud sometimes. The production fits the mood/vibe of the CD very well.
Even though I was sent a promotional copy of this album to review, I’ll be spending my hard-earned money on Man Alive’s Open Surgery to help out album sales. Check out their purevolume page, listen to “Give Me a Sign,” and don’t tell me you’re not singing along by the end of it. Hopefully these guys will get a good following now because they’re on a US-based label and can get some good exposure. The Militia Group fucking rules.