Engrained: Deep Rooted

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Engrained: Deep Rooted
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Engrained: Deep Rooted
Hard Rock, Hardcore, Punk
SPV Records
November 22nd, 2010 / April 5th, 2011 (US)
Release length:
Myspace
Following up their debut EP through SPV, the Hard Rock and Punk inspired Engrained return with their first full-length effort, Deep Rooted. While the EP Anger, Roots & Rock ‘n Roll wasn’t the strongest EP, it did it’s job to introduce the group to those who had never heard of this group before. However, this time around, the band seems to have matured a little more, and the songs feel a little more solid with a stronger Hardcore and Punk vibe then a traditional Hard Rock sound.

While the “Intro” track doeasn’t really do a thing for the effort, the old-school vive of Punk Rock shines through on the following material. The vocals typically have that more Hardcore vibe to them on some songs, taking more of an Agnostic Front approach of trying to sound like a bit of a bad ass. It’s not bad, but it feels a little unnecessary at times, coming off as overkill for “Dead Man’s Hand”, but not necessarily dragging the song down through the mud. The gang chants that accompany the song really help to retain a more harder edge to the song, and the faster pace definitely helps to retain that Hardcore vibe that suits the band well, especially when you sit down and listen to the pro-Rock anthemic lyrics and how appropriate the more Punk and Hardcore angst feels with the song, mixed with the general Rock ‘n Roll attitude that comes from the lyrics.

But, while some of the heavier songs typically have an angsty teen vibe coupled with Rock n’ Roll attitude, it’s the more Punk Rock tracks that really give off more of an upbeat, rebellious feeling, while being insanely catchy. “See Me Running” is a quick departure from the Hardcore attitude of “Dead Man’s Hand”, and it really shines through with it’s simpler lyrics and faster, catchier songs that will make any fan immediately want to break out and dance with their friends in celebration of such solid Punk and Hard Rock fusions such as these. The vocals are also performed in a clean singing style, and that’s really where the album seems to be at it’s best vocally, as the more demanding, yet clean approach works well to add to the somewhat rebellious environment that the song gives off. These are the kind of songs that truly make up Deep Rooted, though other more Hardcore sounding songs do still exist on the release.

That doesn’t mean every one of these Punk oriented Rock ‘n Roll songs are going to be rebellious or have a more upbeat sound to them. “Say Yes Mean No” is a more serious song, for the most part having a stronger Rock attitude to it, but having a very serious, almost darker Punk influence to it that blends in the clean singing with the aforementioned Hardcore vocal approach that is more harmonized against the traditional anthemic material, instead of being a more lighter Horror Punk style. It makes for a fantastic combination, and puts together a catchy and addictive song that features a very impressive guitar solo, amid the chugging serious Punk atmosphere. There’s also no denying that the band seems to take from Horror Punk ideas, which shows up on “Devil’s Don’t Dream”, as well as “Music of the Night”, though the latter has a stronger implication of The Misfits then anything with it’s infectiously catchy Punk song and vocals pushing a somewhat darker atmosphere that not all tracks here have.

However, while the clean singing is great, that Hardcore vocal style mentioned above really starts to become a little grating after a while. It’s not necessarily a problem on “Dead Man’s Hand” as it does bring that Agnostic Front kind of attitude with it, but when they are harmonized, it becomes a treacherous journey of forced emphasis and off key singing. “Holiday Prostitute” isn’t that bad when it comes to this, mostly because the song is catchy as all hell and can easily cause the vocal performance to be overlooked a bit, but “Sweet Vampire Girl” really continues to push the harmonizations badly with a huge emphasis on putting an energetic performance out, but that causes the vocals to sound off key through the chorus and other sections of the song. You can even hear the vocals crack and sound forced to try to hit a certain note and fail, as well as seems to be some traces of digital altering to them if you pay close enough attention to the song. All that is rather sad since the song itself is very energetic and as infectious as “Holiday Prostitute”, really shining with it’s more serious sound, but isn’t afraid to go a little upbeat at times. This sets up the rest of the album, though some songs are catchier and far better vocally. The only other time the vocals sound obnoxious is during the rather soothing ballad track “For All…”, where they sound more nasally and whiny then anything, completely clashing against the more Glam Rock ballad vibe of the song, and being completely off key with the entire song.

Deep Rooted shows a stronger Engrained then on their EP through a more mature concept of the style of music that want to write. The general flow of the music remains the same, outside the tone that the “Intro” fails to set, as well as the heavier “Dead Man’s Hand” that brings in the only really devoutely Hardcore song on the release, with the rest clearly being aimed more at varying degrees of Punk Rock compositions. With a rocky start, and a few tracks that greatly suffer from an increasingly irritating and often off-pitch vocal performance, this release is still held back by some of the same complications as their EP, though it’s still a bold move with some of the tracks here, such as “For All…” and more. If you enjoy Punk Rock, Hardcore, or just general Rock n’ Roll, then this attitude-packed album is right for you, and is well worth a spin, even if you’re not as dedicated a fan of those styles.

01. Intro – n/a
02. Dead Mans Hand – n/a
03. See Me Running – n/a
04. Devils Don’t Dream – n/a
05. Say Yes Mean No – n/a
06. Holiday Prostitute – n/a
07. Sweet Vampire Girl – n/a
08. You’re the One for Me – n/a
09. Music of the Night – n/a
10. Presentation in Life – n/a
11. Rules of Time – n/a
12. Cold and Lonesome Morning – n/a
13. For All… – n/a
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Engrained
Engrained

Digital review copy of this release provided by SPV Records via Freeman Promotions.