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How do you begin a review for Four Year Strong? Really, there are tons of things to say, but nowhere to really start. Is there inventiveness worth repeating first, or should it be noted that their sound has gained weight? Are their charismatic guitar riffs the main point, or must we look at the bigger picture and consider their impact on the scene?
Their newest album, Enemy Of The World, could be looked at two ways. A solid release by Four Year Strong, which encapsulates their sound in eleven songs, OR an example setting album that strives for creative honesty and individuality while staying true to fans. Either way, Enemy Of The World is jam packed with quality, and sure to amaze anyone who favors pop-punk, hardcore, punk rock, or even emo.
Enemy Of The World see’s Four Year Strong progressing and maturing. To me, their last album, Rise Or Die Trying, lacked in heaviness. That is not to say that it wasn’t heavy, but it seemed as though Four Year Strong wanted to stick to the poppy side of things. Though there was aggression, it felt as though it wasn’t being explored to its full potential. Four Year Strong seemed to be giving up early on a good thing.
Enemy Of The World shows a change. It is an assault of guitar riffs and chunky drop D chords, and feels like the exhale of a long held in breath by the band: as if they’ve been meaning to sound like this for a while. It isn’t much “different” per se, but it is much “mature.” There are still hooks and catches all throughout the album, but they do not sound as adolescent as they did on Rise Or Die Trying.
To put it simply, Four Year Strong’s balls have dropped.
Where most bands seemed to force aggression, Four Year Strong’s sound is completely natural. Enemy Of The World is a monster that is ready to suck the blood of listeners, infecting them with anathematic choruses and a full-fledged attack of fat songs with fatter guitar tones.
The opening track It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong sees the new side of FYS, while keeping fans comfortable with their poppy tone. A quick tempo’d guitar riff backs the whole song, while Dan O’Conners voice melodically scoots over a room filling drum and bass combo. While on the flipside, What The Hell Is Gigawatt has heaviness, has muscle behind it. We see vocals that border on screaming, and breakdowns galore. The middle, most forward breakdown has a eighties thrash metal feel, and pure screaming, then jumps right back in to poppy heaviness.
One Step At A Time is the usual heavily riffed, fast poppy hardcore, but when the chorus drops, there is a side of Four Year Strong that has never been heard before. It’s a melodic chorus that is sincere and honest. It is almost like a ballad in the middle of a war zone. “Cause I know it’s warmer where you are” is sung in a beautiful manner. With flowy vocals and beautiful two way singing. It’s just that one line that is sung like that, but it is so penetrating that it seems like the rest of the song is just filler until that line.
All in all, Enemy Of The World is simply a great album. Two thumbs up. It has the balls of a hardcore album, but has the melody of a pop punk record. It is Four Year Strong moving forward. Songs like Flannel Is The Color Of My Energy and Find My Way Back have an old school feel with a new age twist, proving Four Year Strong comes from tons of different influences. Enemy Of The World is destined to be a standard that bands will strive to hit with each new release. Don’t let the teeny bopper girls deter you from this album, it is a solid release with something for everyone in it.