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Straightline: Alteration of the Rules
Crossover Thrash, Punk, Skater Punk
Self-release
June 30th, 2014
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Straightline is apparently a “Melodic Skatepunk Thrash” outfit from Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The group had formed back in 1998, but after two demos everyone but vocalist and guitarist Bart apparently changed (though I’m not sure in what respect that means, did they grow out of something or apart from one another, did they leave the group, were they possessed by Zuul and viewed Bart as the keymaster thus making things rather uncomfortable from that point on?) so the decision was made to change the name and style they perform to what was mentioned earlier. More demos, line-up changes and various small offers like splits and songs for samplers later the band once known as Softcore finally released their debut full-length, Final Redemption, in 2013. Now the “1998 founding formation” has come together to issue a brand new seven-inch EP titled Alteration of the Rules.

Now, before we go on about the new release, humor my need to give you a bit of background. I may have been born in the mid-eighties, but most of my social interaction and growing up was through the nineties. Anyone who was raised in this time frame will tell you that, well, it was incredibly awkward. More awkward than the days of inner discovery shows like Happy Days and The Wonder Years express. This was largely thanks to a major cultural shift that, while present for most generations, basically served zero purpose in life. I seriously remember very little from the nineties that was a major accomplishment other than the internet, console wars, and that O-Town music video where they all danced inside a used condom. It was the time where sex was really given a push into the mainstream media, starting to make prepubescent kids and young teens feel like they had to start looking and acting like whores and pimps if the cultural mannerisms were more appealing. Why do I mention this? Because Alteration of the Rules immediately reminded me of those days when Pop Punk, Punk Rock, boy bands and rap overtook the radio, television, and nearly everyone in high school became walking pod people programmed by MTV when it was culturally relevant and played music videos, though today’s youth wouldn’t know this. Dag gum whipper snappers and their Youtubs and Mespaces. Get off my digital lawn!

Given this was a good chunk of the status quo back then, the only girls there for me to hit on, quite unsuccessfully mind you, were into those styles of music. Even outside of high school I kept meeting the hurdle of radio friendly Punk fans everywhere. So it should come as no surprise that one of the ladies I was interested in upon starting college had the vice of Green Day fan fiction that usually involved Billie Joe Armstrong getting rammed in one orafice or another by another band member, feminist with a vendetta, or some tentacles beast from the oceanic depths even he who slumbed at the shores of R’lyeh would say “No, I’m good, don’t write me into this book and I’ll let you keep your soul. Kthxbai.”

What? I didn’t know about this till much later! And oh what one hell of an immediate turn off it was for me. I’m not homophobic but, seriously, I don’t care to date someone with a fetish for singers getting things crammed in places I consider sacred and in no way penetrable, especially since at the time I was involved with a local band as a vocalist. But before I knew all this, it was Pop Punk and Punk Rock CD after another, even one or two shows I found myself at wanting to perform hara-kiri at. But one look at her and it was worth it.

Well, until I found out the pay off actually wouldn’t happen. And then about that dirty little secret. And no I’m not talking about the song by that name I suffered through time and time again. Oh how I hate that song. Damn you, Fall Out Boy and All American Rejects!!!

So what a surprise it was when I hit play on that promo touted as “Melodic Skatepunk Thrash” that was the first piece of music I play to kick start my night!

Now, to be fair, Alteration of the Rules does carry itself as well done Punk Rock music that would perfectly fit the nineties into early two thousands radio stations. But one thing this release does is throw some Hardcore elements into the mix, and even some Crossover Thrash with Heavy Metal riffs, though I’m not entirely sure if the latter is on purpose or just a coincidence. The title track is a fairly catchy, accessible performance with a more complex closing, and “Retrogressive” starts off with some hooks that sound like an altered version of those found on “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden against a faster, more Hardcore driven track.

“Unfinished Story” immediately reminded me of the days of Dookie by Green Day, the first CD I ever purchased and still enjoy to this day. I also couldn’t help but feel a hint of Ska continuing from the previous song. But then “Blistering Attack” kicks in and, well, it literally is Crossover Thrash Metal. There’s even some growling in the vocals that took me by surprise. What is this? Whatever it is, I want this! More of this please!

Ok, truth be told, I may have given Alteration of the Rules a lot of flack for throwing all those years in therapy to forget as many of those goobers from my childhood as I possibly could, but it isn’t that bad an EP overall. It’s just the furthest thing from what you would consider to be Thrash, geared more to the group’s roots that seem to stem from the mainstream rise of Punk Rock with Hardcore Punk and hints of Metal thrown in. It’s good for what it is, but what it is is not something meant for me. Even their 2013 full-length Final Redemption was hit or miss for me. “Curtain Fall” caught my interest for the most part, having some heavy moments that “Wash It Away” kind of kept alive and appeared on many others. But then “Burning Heart” and many others just couldn’t grab me.

Straightline does sound like a fun band that knows what they’re doing for their genre, and fans will more than likely get a huge kick out of both this EP and the album, though the latter does sound like it has some washout on them that might bother the avid listener. If you’re into this sort of genre, then yeah, I would recommend it to you. If you’re not ready to travel back to the nineties when the chart topping hit single was “Dance Dance” and the many clones that followed, then you might want to sample this one to see what the band is about and decide for yourself. I’d love to give you a straight answer but, again, this is outside the box, so I can’t really comment on what I refuse to acknowledge the nineties.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I found my therapist’s old card and am about to schedule a new appointment to put all those once forgotten with good reason memories back in the cage located at the deepest recesses of my mi…

…and its disconnected.

…Well fu

Straightline: Final Redemption
Straightline
Straightline

Digital review copy of this release provided by Straightline via Metalmessage PR.