A lot has happened since Pennywise’s last album was released in 2008; they’re back with Epitaph, decided to go with a more traditional album release and oh yeah, singer Jim Lindberg quit the band. This is undoubtedly the band’s most dramatic era of events save for the tragic loss of original bassist Jason Matthew Thirsk in the mid-nineties.
Soon after Jim parted ways with the band, underground punk legend Zoli Teglas of Ignite fame took up duties as the band’s interim singer. A handful of months after that, the band revealed that he would be filling the gap as a full-timer. They began writing new music in 2010 and a whopping (for Pennywise) two years of work later, finally announced its details. For almost 15 years the band had kept to a steady release schedule of a new album every two years, but here we are at the end of a 4 year cycle, double the normal amount. And the question is, was it worth the wait? The answer is yes, it most definitely was.
“All Or Nothing” is 12 solid songs that take the signature Pennywise sound back to the basics with the twist of Zoli’s influence and voice. Zoli, the Bruce Dickinson of punk rock if I may be so bold, has a clear, strong voice that easily leaves Jim’s in the dust. But besides the comfort and familiarity of hearing Jim belt out PW’s anthems, his voice also has more character and fits better with the fast, unrelenting pace of Pennywise’s music. Fans of Ignite may be used to hearing Zoli put a lot more emotion and range into his performance, whereas his vocals with Pennywise adhere to the somewhat more static onslaught of their music. He does a great job and his voice works, but it’s still something fans will need to get used to given their familiarity with the two singer’s respective resumes.
“All Or Nothing” is full of great sing-alongs and excellent songwriting that takes the skate-punk formula, giving it both an edge as well as an emotional component. The lyrics speak of hope and unity far more than past albums and this positive sentiment is renewed with each subsequent track. The engineering of the songs is crystal clear with crunchy clarity and a far-reaching, aural range that keeps things consistently fresh sounding.
It’s unclear exactly how much Zoli’s influence changed the outcome of the album, if for example Fletcher and the boys had complete control over the music, but from what has been told to the press, the band wrote, accepted, rejected, hurt feelings and fought bitterly until great music was made. Here’s to the re-birth and future of a band who at one point (ahem, 2005’s “The Fuse”) were in danger of becoming a stale, nostalgia act.
After losing their vocalist and one of their chief songwriters, Pennywise decided they were either going to give it all or have nothing. And Pennywise went with “All”. So, if you’re a fan of Pennywise, Ignite, skate punk, energy, positive vibes or punk rock in general, then pick up a copy of “All Or Nothing.” It’s an interesting, catchy and empowering step in a good direction and you won’t be disappointed.
You can stream “All Or Nothing” here.