Album Review: Pennywise – “All Or Nothing”

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.

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Comments 12

  • When you say “And Pennywise went with “All”.”, it is a also a pun on when Milo left the descendents and the other member of the band formed “ALL” ?

    If so, it is clever, if not, then it’s a nice coincidence.

  • It takes about 24 hours of listening to this for Zoli’s different vocal style to really sink in and feel right, so you do spend a day going, “I like it but is it really Pennywise.” Once you get thru that and it settles you realize, ya, this sure as shit IS Pennywise. It’s a great great album, IMO their best since Land of the Free? I’ve long considered Jim to be one of my heroes so it pains me to say this, but it seems like the change was a good one. I’d feel good about giving this album a 5 star rating, the only reason I’m not is because if I do that then what does that make About Time?

    Johnny X Reply:

    About Time is still a 5 star album, IMO. I don’t think that means All Or Nothing can’t be a 5 as well.

    theguy91 Reply:

    no matter how we or anyone else rates it, bottom line is that this is an AMAZING album!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • As a die-hard Pennywise fan, I figured this album might take a while to grow on me. The good thing is that the band had Zoli from Ignite take over on vocals. That made the transition a little easier for me being that i’ve also been a big fan of Ignite. I think this change is going to re-energize the band. I listened to the stream of this album a few times and I really like the new sound of PW. The good thing is we still get a fix of Jim on vocals with his new band The Black Pacific. Pennywise and Jim will always go hand and hand. He is “their” sound but i’m definitely encouraged to see where Zoli takes the band. To think I ever doubted the ‘Wise!! Shame on me!!!! 🙂

  • Loved ignite, loved pennywise, hate to say it but Zoli has better vocals. Good album

    Slim Reply:

    Zoli sucks BlackPacific!!!

  • Better than Pennywise has been in years. Zoli killed it.

  • It was awesome

  • this album is a perfect example of how a slight change can really invigorate a stale formula. Pennywise is one of my favorite bands and i am thrilled that Jim is back with the band, but this album is practically perfect and in the five years since, they have failed to put out any new material. what’s the hold up?

    definitely in my top ten of the decade.

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