Album Review: Pour Habit – “Got Your Back”

I’m going to start by being brutally honest: my experience with Pour Habit only goes back a couple of months. I missed the “WTF?!” and “Suiticide” boats entirely, so my first taste of the band was the YouTube video of “Dead Soldier’s Bay” that we ran a story about at Dying Scene a few months ago. I knew the band had a lot of buzz surrounding them, but based on that clip alone, I didn’t quite get it. So when it came time to give their new disc, “Got Your Back,” a spin, I didn’t really have high hopes.

Allow me to eat a slice of humble pie, as I was very wrong about this band. For those as out of the loop as I was mere weeks ago, Pour Habit are a five piece punk band with heavy metal tendencies. Comin’ straight outta Compton, Pour Habit put out their first official Fat Wreck new release, “Got Your Back,” on April 12th. According to the band’s own website, “Got Your Back” is “thirteen tracks of ball melting, face burning speed, angular riffs, genre bending and lyrics about everything from Machiavellian political maneuvering to getting totally shithoused.” I couldn’t have written it better myself. On to the music…

“Got Your Back” starts out with all guns blazing from the very first notes of album opener “Dead Soldier’s Bay.” The track is a great pace setter, and trends a little more to the “metal” side of their punk-metal hybrid style. Drummer Colin Walsh is heavy on the double bass pedal and Eric Walsh employs chunky, lightning fast guitars (new addition Matt Hawkes didn’t record guitar tracks for the album). The next track, “Heads of State,” has more of an old-school Lagwagon/No Use For A Name feel, especially the vocal harmonies. I also feel like I can hear some early Propagandhi in there as well; with lyrics about a nation being run by “heads of state/who don’t eat from the same plate” it’s easy to see why. The song also features a pretty shredding guitar solo. “Matter of Opinion” and “East 69th” sound like two parts of the same song: both hit hard and fast. “Head in the Clouds” follows and brings with it a slower tempo. While not my favorite song on the album, it is a welcome change of pace, allowing the listener to catch his/her breath.

“Party” comes next, and is a Sublime-style pseudo-ska track about (you guessed it) partying, specifically doing so as though it were one’s last night. Very different sound to most of the rest of the album, though the acoustic guitar solo is pretty cool to hear. “Teens Turned To Fiends” follows and gets back to the rocking, a la early Lagwagon/NUFAN again. “Tomahawk” is a more metal track, but Pour Habit have obvious melodic roots, so the song sounds well composed and less chaotic than many similar acts who try to pull off the same sound. “Gutterblock Boy” is 1:20 of pure aggression and is over just as quickly as it starts, though it feels like it is a longer than it actually is (still has time for a guitar solo). “The Expert” is a little more melodic. A lot of times, melodic post-punk metal can come across as sounding like “nu-metal” (see: Unwritten Law) if bands aren’t careful to avoid it. Thankfully, Pour Habit are able to pull it off without crossing that line. Also, “The Expert” has a great instrumental outro that would have been the perfect way to close the album. “Conscience Mind of Revelation” is another Sublimey faux-jam-ska song that doesn’t really work as an album closer. Sounds like it grew out of a late night dorm room jam session. Maybe would have been better placed earlier in the album. Pour Habit do the harder punk/metal thing so well, that you sorta wonder why they bother with the ‘smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” stuff.

Pour Habit are certainly not a prog band by any stretch, but their music is definitely very technical: these boys know exactly what they are doing. Colin Walsh is an absolute animal on the drum kit, Eric Walsh (and presumably departed guitarist Shaun Nix) are very technically savvy while paying close attention to melody, and bassist Steve Williams plays more of an understated role as the rock that holds the groove down allowing the rest of the band to take serious chances. Lead singer Chuck Green’s voice can be a bit of an acquired taste at times, and sounds best when it is somewhat reined in (tracks like “Heads of State,” “Teens Turned to Fiends” and “Tomahawk”).  When those reins come off, Green’s voice can hit a high warble that sounds somewhat like a cross between Bruce Dickinson and Dexter Holland: “Dead Soldier’s Bay” and “Tomahawk” come to mind.

As I stated before, I’m very glad I was initially wrong about Pour Habit. The album is loud, and fast, and with the exception of the two acoustic jam tracks it will kick you in the face from start to finish.

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