Spineshank: Anger Denial Acceptance

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Spineshank: Anger Denial Acceptance
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Spineshank: Anger Denial Acceptance
Alternative Metal
Century Media Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 44:52
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Spineshank has always been a rather interesting group to keep an eye on. Formed back in 1996, they stormed onto the scene through Roadrunner Records, issuing three full-length albums, a number of singles, and had been nominated for a Grammy throughout those years. In 2008, the group had broken up, but later that year reformed with the original line-up. The fruit of the reformation is their latest offering, Anger denial Acceptance, which is being handled by Century Media Records, a release that has been causing both positive and negative waves throughout the internet. Has the short break-up, as well as Jonny Santos’ time with Silent Civilian hurt this Alternative Metal power house?

One of the biggest issues of this recording, and something that has been pointed out here and there, is that the audio quality doesn’t necessarily work in the album’s favor. Anger Denial Acceptance actually comes off like a mixture of a modern, digital audio, while still trying to have a muddy enough sound that it benefits the heavier moments of the recording. This leaves the guitars to sound somewhat deep, and as unimpressive as what Industrial elements of the group’s past sound remain. The bass, however, does a decent job of working with the guitars and adds a nice groove to the music that could almost replace the other stringed instruments entirely considering how badly this dominates them. The vocals come through loud and clear enough, having some energy in the more aggressive, harsher tones, but overall still nothing that really stands out. Same with the drums, as the cymbals sound clear and sleek, and the snares hold a tighter, richer presence against the click of the bass kicks that just about match their level. Aside this instrument and some of the bass riffs, there is a great deal of lifeless material, as well as a surprisingly higher pitch to some of the fuller cuts.

When Spineshank really pick up the aggression and speed, things work out well. “After the End” holds that signature sound the band has carried with them for years through heavy, chaotic, and even mechanical chords that would greatly benefit from some additional Industrial elements, but sadly they are heavily absent where needed, and present when not. The materia does slow down to a more trance-like approach, but it feels tacked on and incredibly bland unfrtunately. “I Want You to Know” has this same problem, though where “After the End” is rich through a majority of the track but still unimpressive and largely bland, this one finds the lighter material composing most of it, coming off more whiny than anything until the strong chorus kicks in, allowing the deeper tones to mesh well with a sleek style that fills everything up well with catchy riffs that immediately hook the listener. While some songs can end up a bit too whiny, there are those that can bring in some true emotion through the clean singing, and this happens to be one of them.

For the most part, Anger Denial Acceptance isn’t too heavy, but actually ends up more enjoyable than the lifeless production leads you to think. But, after it’s rough start, the effort does pick up quite well. “I Am Damage” shakes things up again with that richer approach “I Want You to Know” has, and despite the higher pitch in the material, it ends up a vibrant and energetic romp through catchy, accessable music that can instantly have you bobbing your head along with a strong chorus that will stick in your skull for a good while. “The Reckoning” is the same way, though the music isn’t as enthusiastic. However, while also sporting an enjoyable chorus, the song “Murder-Suicide” is an interesting one. It isn’t an emotional experience, but the main verses have a musical approach you could easily throw back to the Alternative Metal meets Rap days, but the vocals are handled in a manner far from it, allowing it to stand out as a unique, and somewhat aggressive experience throughout.

But, of all the songs, it’s the last three that are the most intriguing, though not always as enjoyable. The title of the album is played out through a set of tracks, one for each word, in a conceptual manner. “God Complex (anger)” is a rather intense experience, though though more hostile tracks do appear earlier. It ends with a typical breakdown and some pianos before it fades to “Motive Method Opportunity (denial),” which carries the piano against some new simple chords and clean singing. Again, nothing too impressive, but the transition is seamless and captures that specific tone well enough. “Exit Wound (Acceptance)” carries a somber atmosphere that slams into a heavier, glorious sounding performance that speaks volumes of “acceptance,” and closes out the release well without coming off too whiny like how it started.

Honestly, Anger Denial Acceptance is a lot better than it has any right to be. Spineshank kick things off with incredibly generic, boring, even lifeless material and production qualities that are hard to sit through. You can tell the band was trying to remove what rust exists, but out of nowhere the release just picks right up. The vibrant material performed does suffer from the audio quality leaving things a bit too clean or higher pitched, but the songs performed end up addictive at times, and just harsh or emotional enough to really stand their ground well. If you’re a fan of Spineshank, this isn’t going to be the most spectacular recording the group has ever done, in fact it’s easily one of the most accessable and mainstream of their career. However, the way the group handles various emotions throughout the release without always being too Emo about it does make the experience worth taking.

01. After the End – 3:06
02. Nothing Left for Me – 3:38
03. Anger Denial Acceptance – 5:30
04. I Want You to Know – 3:48
05. Murder-Suicide – 3:41
06. I Am Damage – 3:19
07. The Endless Disconnect – 2:46
08. Ploratio Morbus – 2:26
09. Everything Everyone Everywhere Ends – 4:41
10. The Reckoning – 3:50
11. God Complex (Anger) – 1:51
12. Motive Method Opportunity (Denial – 1:38
13. Exit Wound (Acceptance) – 4:40
Overall Score: 6.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.