Album Review: All Dinosaurs – “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior”

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The most pleasurable aspect of my recent incursion in music reviewing is that I get to assuage my intense musical curiosity without the usual sense of guilt associated with investing serious time in a pursuit that has no purpose other than getting to be a slightly more cultivated music nerd. Now, when I spend the whole evening with my headphones on listening to the same album over and over, then digging through my iTunes library for something or other to compare and contrast, then filling a Grooveshark playlist with dozens upon dozens of songs I haven’t heard in ages or at all, I can tell my wife: “it’s important honey, it’s all for the review.”

It’s saying something that in trying to situate All Dinosaurs‘ LP “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” in the grand musical scheme of things, I ended up playing such disparate music as Alexisonfire, Mastodon, Protest The Hero, DRI, and came up empty handed. I still can’t tell with conviction what kind of music the Cleveland, Ohio-based group plays. It’s kind of post-hardcore, and it borrows left and right from melodic and hardcore punk, metalcore, sludge metal, thrash crossover, and other sub genres.

In short, it’s somewhere on the continuum between punk and metal, and if your first thought is that this kind of hybridization (not to call it ambivalence) runs the risk of alienating both kinds of listeners, you are mostly right. For what it’s worth, the same criticism was mounted against DRI when their early career speed punk verged into metal territory. They didn’t give a hoot then, and neither should All Dinosaurs now.

So then, except for the absolute purists at both ends of the spectrum–i.e. people who cannot abide a few bars of metal (you’ll stop the album after the first few notes), and people who can’t deal with the screaming explosive energy of hardcore punk (you’ll be annoyed after a couple of songs)–All Dinosaurs has delivered a decent album that has something to offer to all of us punkers who retain a bit of a sweet tooth for a nicely turned metal arrangement.

‘Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior’ was re-released by A-F records a few weeks ago. It’s a fast and aggressive record that’s built around powerful metal-influenced guitar riffs, and really that pretty much sums it up, as the riffs are essentially what you remember from it, and why you’ll listen to it. The lyrics are half-screamed half-sung so half-understandable, the songs individually aren’t that memorable, and the blending of genres means you’re never quite in the mood for exactly that kind of sound. It features the occasional brilliant arrangement—an interesting breakdown or the cool way that the riffing lead and rhythm guitars seem to dialogue with each other—and those moments were enough to keep me going back to the album.

A few specifics: ‘Tight Rope’ is an absolutely brilliant and near perfect melodic hardcore song. It’s consistently interesting, progresses in a really satisfying way, and is structured around one of the best guitar riffs I’ve heard in recent memory. ‘Mongoloid’ is another of my favorites, mostly because it sounds like a sludge metal tune that’s not boring (sludge metal tends to bore me). Others like ‘Ragnarok’ and ‘25’ I found somewhat ordinary and easily forgettable. The album opens with an excellent full-band instrumental part that’ll get your head banging almost immediately, and it’s a nice touch that the closer returns to that same part, giving the album a sense of having gone full circle.

Quick recap: an above-average genre-crossing album with a couple of standout songs.

3.5/5 Stars

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