Four Year Strong

Brain Pain

Written by: PP on 06/11/2020 10:42:04

Ok, let's be honest, who expected Four Year Strong to sound like this on their seventh album "Brain Pain", their first one in five years? Yes, they've explored a variety of stylistic directions and influences over the years, but none quite like this one. Remember Story Of The Year's debut album "Page Avenue" and its hardcore-influenced follow-up "In The Wake Of Determination"? Well, "Brain Pain" is those two albums packaged into one, with additional influence from arena metal and alternative rock packaged together with their roots in easycore, resulting in a surprisingly well-rounded, explorative record that leaves behind a definitive expression where Four Year Strong seems to have re-discovered their prowess after multiple lackluster records preceding their self-titled 2015 album, which was already pointing in this direction.

Popping on the record for the first time is a huge surprise. Waiting for you is a metallic, hardcore oriented "Get Out Of My Head" already on track two that simultaneously draws from heavier Foo Fighters-style alternative rock, followed by "Crazy Pills", which initially made me jot down in my notes "hold on, is this a Sick Of It All song?" based on the intro alone. We're neck-deep in hardcore with coarse screams and yells encapsulating an anthemic alternative rock-meets easycore expression where chunky riffs, smashing percussion, and breakdowns dominate the soundscape. Except where it feels easycore elements are in a supporting role, largely replaced by metallic guitars, punk undertones, and considerable influence from mid-2000s emo/post-hardcore greats before the genre succumbed to mainstream polish killing off the movement. The emotional charge has been left intact, while exploring a multitude of other styles, primarily in the heavier spectrum, just barely managing to keep things melodic in the process.

Take a listen to album highlight "Learn To Love The Lie". It's driven by screamed vocals, but take note of the back/forth vocal dynamic between the supporting cast. All of a sudden, an aggressive, testosterone-fueled track becomes one that feels almost playful in its nature. Anthemic certainly wouldn't be the wrong word to use here. And what about the title track "Brain Pain"? There's even a nod towards Lamb Of God within the guitars, while Set Your Goals debut-style fun-loving high-energy punk rock is mixed with post-hardcore and screamed vocals in a fascinating cocktail of differing stylistic choices that feels like it's about to explode any minute now. The same attitudes are exemplary on the mega-catchy "Usefully Useless" that for inexplicable reasons has been stuffed towards the very end of the record.

So if you're still expecting an infectiously catchy Four Year Strong to sound like your easycore ideals or even like a heavier pop punk band, you're in for a surprise. Here, the band has purposefully steered the ship directly towards the rockier seas of metallic hardcore, punk, and post-hardcore, albeit without totally abandoning the ship of their roots or previous records. Come into this record expecting coarse vocals, muscular, crushing riffs, loud percussion, and karate-friendly pits, and you'll find a whole new side of Four Year Strong to love you never knew existed. A radical change in style that feels like a punch in your face during a bar fight - where you started the fight and the band punched back. Four Year Strong hasn't sounded this fresh in more than a decade!


Download: Usefully Useless, Learn To Love The Lie, Get Out Of My Head, Brain Pain, Mouth Full Of Dirt
For the fans of: Story Of The Year, Set Your Goals, A Loss For Words
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.02.2020
Pure Noise Records

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