Strung Out – Songs of Armor and Devotion

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Strung Out

Songs of Armor and Devotion - Fat Wreck Chords

Santa Cruz melodic punk band Strung Out needs no introduction.  Going strong for nearly thirty years, the band has been a fixture on Fat Wreck Chords since their inception.  Their brand of technical blistering punk rock has been the focus of imitation many a time, but others seldom replicate the formula.  Their ninth full length, Songs of Armor and Devotion, comes a short year after their offshoot acoustic EP, and will have fans revelling in the familiar buzz and intensity Strung Out is known for.

Songs of Armor and Devotion is a contemporary throwback to late 00’s Strung Out, with the band capitalizing on melody without surrendering their speed or aggression.  After an arguably lukewarm opener (it’s a little on the safe side but does its job) with “Rebels and Saints,” the band launches headlong into scathing criticism of the American political machine.  “Daggers” roars loudly with Jason Cruz’s bleak descriptions of an impending “general strike between the left and the right, between the master’s hand and the appetite, between the rich and the dirty poor.”  It brings to mind the sort of dark, civil war-esque imagery that Black Hawks Over Los Angeles impressed upon me over a decade ago.

The album embraces a range of tempos but keeps the music full bodied and technical.  For instance, “Under the Western Sky” embraces three seperate tempo shifts, from mid to swift, separated by increasingly sharp riffs and a number of tightly executed guitar solos.  When placed beside the straight up blistering pace of “Monuments” and quick-but-singable hooks of “White Girls,” it all just kind of flows together in harmony. From the old school, 90’s inspired drumming and slick metal-tinged riffs of “Strange Notes” and “Hammer Down,” to the experimental, Tool-esque intro and brooding sense of doom cloaked over “Demons”, Strung Out takes full advantage of the many styles inspiring them across their career.

Songs of Armor and Devotion falls smack into the middle of Strung Out’s extensive discography.  The usual appeal to those hungering for the right combination of No Use For A Name, A Wilhelm Scream, Darko, and other bands balancing melodic and technical punk is right on the mark.  While it’s not Strung Out’s most immediately memorable release, Songs of Armor and Devotion boasts a consistent stylistic quality and number of standout tracks.  Fans of Strung Out know what they will be getting themselves into and Songs of Armor and Devotion doesn’t disappointed.