Death By Stereo-“Death Is My Only Friend” 9/10

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Death By Stereo, headed by their fearless leader, Efrem Schultz, have been one of my favorite bands for over 6 years. Their CDs are amazing, their live shows are insane, and they are a jolt of energy in an otherwise boring music industry.  They’ve never once sold out, and continue to tour, supporting bands that aren’t as technically proficient or as entertaining, but somehow have amassed more popularity. It’s sad, but also makes me glad that I am amongst the select few that hold this band in such a high regard.

Their latest CD, Death Is My Only Friend, is yet another worthy album to add to their already impressive catalog. It combines the old Death By Stereo hardcore from If Looks Could Kill, I’d Watch You Die, with the more melodic and better song writing from Death For Life. From the first song, “Opening Destruction”, they set the tone for the entire album. You get above average lyrics, combined with great instrumentation and vocals. Just about every track is great.

The only song I don’t care for is “D.B.S.F.U.” mainly because the lyrics read like something written by an angst-riddled 16 year old. Other songs like “I Sing For You” and “Welcome to the Party” are great. I’ve already seen them perform “I Sing For You” live, and it’s a definite crowd pleaser.  

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Each DBS CD seems like it has its own agenda. The first CD was just bat shit insane. The songs weren’t all that great, but parts of each song were ridiculous, so you forgave the overall mediocrity of some of the tracks.

Their second CD offers more musicianship, which ended up making the songs less entertaining. The CD was still very good, but something was missing.

Their third CD is my least favorite, mainly because it sounded a little too mainstream. I know they were dealing with a growing popularity, which might have made them skew their music towards a more generic outcome. It’s still a good CD, but isn’t up to their usual standards.

That all changed with their fourth CD. Not only is Death For Life my favorite DBS CD, but it’s one of my favorite CDs of all time. It is more metal than their previous records, but the production values and song writing are top notch.  

Death Is My Only Friend finds a happy medium between the first four CDs. It has the musicianship I’ve grown accustomed to, but doesn’t sacrifice the fun aspect of the band. All the elements combine for a truly memorable experience. It’s great to see that after a four year layoff, DBS is able to come out with such an impressive CD. 

 

9/10

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Rise Against: The Sufferer and the Witness Review 4.8/5

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Rise Against’s latest CD, “The Sufferer and the Witness”, which came out in July 2006, is their best CD to date. There is not one filler track on this album aside from The Approaching Curve. It shows growth both musically and lyrically, and is just plain fun to listen to. Here’s a track breakdown:

1. Chamber the Cartridge: 4.8/5 Starts out with a bang. Perfect opener for the greatness that ensues. Not as good as State of the Union but still a fantastic song. Meaty, raw, and surprisingly fluid.

2. Injection: 4.9/5 This is a song that will definitely grow on you with subsequent listens. The lyrics are fantastic, focusing on addiction (obviously).

3. Ready to Fall: 4.7/5 Their first single. I wasn’t too into it at first but after about 50 listens it definitely grew on me. Really heavy.

4. Bricks: 4.7/5 1:33 of raw freaking power. Reminds me of the Rise Against from “The Unraveling” days.

5. Under the Knife: 4.5/5 Another great song. Nothing that stands out too much, just a fantastic song throughout.

6. Prayer of the Refugee: 5/5 The song is so damn catchy it is scary. It starts out kind of lazily and then breaks into the chorus, which just obliterates the softness right before it. The vocal harmonizing during the last 20 seconds is amazing. It was released as a single and seems to be doing well on MTV2.

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7. Drones: 4.8/5 Starts out with a great beat and a fatty bass line. Again, the chorus just kills on this track. It is a perfect song for their concert. Great throughout.

8. The Approaching Curve: 3.5/5 This is the only song that really doesn’t work on the CD. The lyrics are completely spoken except for the chorus. They seem forced and too melodramatic, like something you’d read in the first three paragraphs of a romance novel. The chorus is fantastic but it cant save the song.

9. Worth Dying For: 5/5 This is my personal favorite and just an awesome song. It feels epic even though it is only three and a half minutes. The song structure is perfect and the music is infectious.

10. Behind Closed Doors: 4.3/5 Another consistantly catchy song. Nothing stands out too much but again, it is solid throughout.

11. Roadside: 4.1/5 Some RA fans might be turned off by this song, but I actually like it. I guess it’s the Swing Life Away of the album. Although it is one of the worst tracks on the CD, it is still worth listening to.

12. The Good Left Undone: 4.9/5 Catchy catchy bo betchy, banana fana fo fetchy.

13. Survive: 4.8/5 Great closer. Epic in scope and a nice way to close it out.

This CD has been in regular rotation on my iPod since I bought it over a year ago. Every song is in the Top 100 songs played on my iPod, because they are THAT catchy. Even though Rise Against has gained more popularity, I don’t think they will ever abandon their roots. This CD is arguably their heaviest to date, even though it has more accessible songs. It’s hard to dislike a band that can approach that boundary without ostracizing it’s core fanbase.

Note: If you ever get a chance to see them live, I highly recommend it. I’ve seen them twice, the latest just a couple months ago, and they were great.