Reunion albums are a tough sell. On the one hand, who doesn’t love the idea of new music from a beloved band? But on the other hand, and this part mostly pertains to reunited bands whose legacies have already been cemented in music history, new material has a lot to live up to and runs the risk of “tainting” a band’s past work. From the get-go, even the concept of a reunion album is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fortunately for Belvedere, as well as their fans, that’s not the case. The band’s fifth album, appropriately titled Revenge of the Fifth, and first record in twelve years, easily fits in with the rest of the band’s discography.
For those living under a rock, Belvedere reunited for a string of shows in 2012 and have continued ever since. It seems as taking a few years playing the old stuff has helped immensely when it came time to recording a new album, because now they’re at a point when it’s less of a reunion album and more the next logical step for an active band to take. Revenge of the Fifth, picks up right where 2004’s Fast Forward Eats the Tape left off without missing a beat. Literally: it sounds as if Belvedere never broke up in the first place. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing largely depends on how much you enjoy the band’s first four LPs.
Skate punk’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: it’s a genre that doesn’t want or need to change. The shouted vocals, the harmonized choruses, the shredding guitars, and the pounding drums are always there for listeners when they need them, whether to act as a soundtrack to a bored day in the suburbs or as an escape for the hellish reality that is high school. In true skate punk tradition, Belvedere doesn’t break from this mold at any point during Revenge of the Fifth– there’s just no need and to do so would mess with the formula. You could tell an unsuspecting youngster that only a year or two had passed between the releases of Fast Forward and Revenge of the Fifth and they’d believe you.
Anyone who can remember the band’s earliest days, or those who joined the party during the band’s downtime will be happy to hear these new tunes. They blaze through energetic song after energetic song, much like everything they’ve ever done. Revenge of the Fifth is a fine album, but it’s also one you’ve heard before.
3 / 5
RIYL: NOFX, Bigwig, Mute