Exile in Oblivion
Fat Wreck Chords
For over a decade, Strung Out has been crafting a fine variety of punk rock tension and metal progression that’s equal parts So. Cal sweet and UK street. Starting with their Fat Records debut, Another Day in Paradise, and up to their breakout release a few years back, American Paradox, Strung Out’s been honing their chops, increasing their intensity and letting the musicianship lead the way. In a similar fashion to groups like AFI and Rise Against, Bouncing Souls and Pennywise, they continue to climb, musically and commercially, stretching the limits and setting themselves apart from the glutted scene.
Exile In Oblivion is another step forward from where American Paradox left off, featuring fourteen memorable tracks of scorching guitar work, fast breaks, athletic scales, harmonies and tight production led by Slayer-renowned Matt Hyde, who’s clearly bled the most from this band. Subjectively, Exile is inner personal and dramatic, less the VOA but still socially observant and politically inquisitive. Jason Cruz’s vox have never sounded better, well sung and smooth, magnified effectively.
By track eleven, “Skeletondanse,” one might expect they’d run out of steam, but instead they’re still churning ’em out at a highly caffeinated pace, sporting vintage Maiden riffs and semi-automatic drumming. The highlights are many: the catchy “Analog” and “Blueprint of the Fall” are rock radio ready and highly adrenalized; “Katatonia” is atmospheric and autumnal; “Vampires” and “Anna Lee” are catchy and more commercial; “Never Speak Again” is rich and instrumental, but a rare occurrence when the chorus flails a bit.
If they had cut back to ten or eleven tunes, this could’ve been the album of the year. As it stands, Exile In Oblivion is a welcome return from the band’s three year exile.
Strung Out: www.strungout.com