Strung Out

Songs Of Armor And Devotion

Written by: PP on 14/01/2020 20:43:13

"Songs Of Armor And Devotion" is the ninth Strung Out album, but only their second in the last ten years. Yes, we haven't been spoiled by new material by the technical punk legends, but let me just say that the wait's been worth it on this one. Yes, this might be their best record since 2004's "Exile In Oblivion" and quite certainly their most melodic and pop punk oriented since 1996's "Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues".

It's infectiously catchy, bouncing back-and-forth between elements of skate punk, melodicore, technical punk, and pop punk, ranging from the breakneck speed, hardcore-fueled A Wilhelm Scream style bangers like "Monuments" to the brilliantly dark melodies of "Under The Western Sky", which might be one of the finest Strung Out songs to date. It pins down what this band is all about: technical flair, a high tempo, infectiously catchy and laid-back, smoke-laden vocals, and when necessary, metallic riffs to crush a song home.

The material throughout the album is about as balanced and varied as we've heard from the band to date. "Daggers", for instance, starts aggressive but blends into a melodic, scratchy chorus. "Ulysses" starts with another killer lead guitar and finishes off with fantastic fretwork towards the end, whilst packing a punch with its great, catchy chorus in the middle. In the meantime, Jason Cruz delivers one of his best performances and reminds us why his voice is one of the most recognizable ones in the industry. Take a listen to the brilliant "Demons" and note how ridiculously this catchy is despite Cruz's seemingly laid-back style of singing. It's back-chilling, especially against the contrast of racy riffs and its lightning speed tempo. Same with "Disappearing City".

Looking back at 2015's "Transmission.Alpha.Delta", "Songs Of Armor And Devotion" deliver much of the same thematics: an exploration of the softer skate punk tracks in direct contrast of the hard-hitting, blinding riffs of the melodic hardcore tracks, and everything in between. The difference? It does it even better than the critically acclaimed record did.

I'm not sure what exactly is going on but there's a resurgence of older punk bands releasing albums near the top of their career-best lately; Lagwagon did it with "Railer", Good Riddance on 2015's ""Peace In Our Time", and now Strung Out are doing the same on "Songs Of Armor And Devotion". We may not be near the heydey of late 90s punk, but the last couple of years sure as hell have delivered some magnificent records in a genre some (falsely) thought was dead or dying. How many bands can stick a trio of bangers like "Politics Of Sleep", "Diamonds And Gold" and "Strange Notes" towards the end of the album instead of within the first three? That says it all about how strong of an album "Songs Of Armor And Devotion" really is. One of the best in 2019, that's for sure.

Download: Under The Western Sky, Demons, Disappearing City, Ulysses, Daggers, Hammer Down
For the fans of: Belvedere, A Wilhelm Scream, Bigwig, Propagandhi, This Is A Standoff, Much The Same, Avail, Good Riddance
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.08.2019
Fat Wreck Chords

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