Say Hello To Angels

Break Your Sword

Written by: TL on 23/10/2012 14:34:42

It's time for another dive into the depths of the promo pile, and from its murky depths I have fished out "Break Your Sword", the debut LP from Texas-based punk-rock quartet Say Hello To Angels which came out back in April. On it, this relatively small band take on raw yet melodic punk-rock in the veins of Against Me, The Menzingers and Off With Their Heads, and just as is the case with many bands from a variety of genres these days, their output seems like these guys have also been taking notes from Bruce Springsteen's songwriting.

The good news is that this inspiration, coupled with a fairly decent budget production and the band's punk-rock roots, have made for an easily enjoyable sound and for songs that have the kinds of choruses that catch on as you hear them, rather than needing a lot of repeat listens. Opener "Gloria" is instantly recognisable with it's straight-forward refrain, "Don't Let Me" follows with a brash charm coming from the lyrics of especially the first verse and later on "Still Here" has a feel-good melody going underneath its chorus section that's worth noticing.

The downside to "Break Your Sword" is that the low profile production means that the band haven't gotten a lot of character out of their sound, and what stands out the most about them is actually that singer/guitarist Dustin Stroud sounds like he's having trouble keeping the reins on his strained vocal delivery, meaning that he occasionally sounds even more like a tune-challenged, hairy, drunken sailor than what is otherwise the norm for the genre.

Moreover, too much of the album passes you by without offering worthwhile moments compared to those present in "If It's Not One Thing" and the songs I've highlighted already. So by the time the record winds down to the closing cover of "Born To Run", I consistently find my attention having faded away to other places, only to suddenly recognise that "hey! I know this melody!". The cover is a rather faithful one however, and though SHTA have punk-ified it with their scratchy style, it's still hard to imagine that you'd ever come back to this version instead of just going for the original.

This is of course always a risk when covering such a great classic, and in truth, many of the things that trouble "Break Your Sword" are natural ailments on a first album, so fans that are accustomed to the quirks of low-profile punk-rock bands will hardly be put off by any of their appearances on here. That being said, while I've found "Break Your Sword" to be a relatively endearing case of feel-good music, it simply does not do enough to distance itself from a vast range of contemporaries doing a similarly enjoyable-yet-not-quite-memorable schtick, and as such, I feel like I have to be a little stingy and restrain my grading at a modest:

Download: Gloria, Don't Let Me, Still Here, If It's Not One Thing
For The Fans Of: Against Me, The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads

Release Date 10.04.2012

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