Instead of mentioning past bands Honor system comes from, or other bands that came from those ex-bands (The lawrence trio, *cough*). I don't want to taint the review with the punk rock watercooler of excess information, or turn this into a band being reviewed versus bands mentioned in review. This review is about this record, and thats all. Also, no lyrical quoting, and no 'guitars sound like....'. I've realized I have 3 adjectives for that and I'm spent, so Ill avoid that altogether.
For me, "Single File" is one of my all time favorite records, and not in a summer blockbuster if you buy three records buy that record three times way. Its in a group of records that I go to behind a break glass in case of personal emergency. I can't debate it with people, its outside good/bad opinion, its just a very personally important record to me. A comfort record.
The EP The system released after, "100% Synthetic", was a bit of a change. The songwriting was pretty similar, but production wise it was more rock oriented. Anyone whose seen the honor system live can tell you they sound much more chaotic and LOUD live than any of there recorded output would hint on. And this EP tried to show that, I thought it traded some of the nuance.
I was kind of split about the EP, but I still preordered there 3 song single when I heard it was coming out. That single had two songs that were re-recorded for this record and one exclusive track (american math). It was very raw, very loud, and very good. One song I loved, one song was okay, and another was so-so. I still had no idea whether "Rise and Run" would make me do the first or the latter. I anticipated this record with alot of anxiety. One of a few records I put money aside for. In an mp3 world, I couldn't pay enough for this.
I woke up, got this CD in the mail, then went to work and got fired. I suddenly had lots of time to pop it in. Being mad over the loss of employment, I looked to this record for some quick therapy. I went from Bret Easton Ellis to Dr.Seuss in the first twenty seconds.
Production wise, it falls inbetween the EP and first LP. It takes the good parts of the EP production, reflecting the bands live sound more accurately, chaotic, busy, and LOUD as hell. It also mixes in the best parts of the LP's production, knowing when to hold back giving restraint during moments when it all tries to break loose so when it finally does, the tease has built you to foam and froth.
The ten songs on the record fall everywhere. The MP3 sample on the grey flight site for the song "paper idols" initially came off without reaction as a slower song, now in the flow of the album, a much needed breather inbetween the anger fueled closer 'the rise and run' and the very pessimistic guitar heavy 'eyebrow of the cobra'. One very instant difference is the hope so evident on 'Single file' has been given edges, and gives for a much more lyrically dark album. The vocals are coughed up with as much silver lined cloud as Dan can manage through his concrete rasp. While most bands tend to mock up there lyrics with surefire stylistic schemes, it has always amazed me that the Honor system can do so much with so little purely on the delivery of the words. "Hz" relates the horrid state of musical affairs with the decay of our personal affairs. References to the war are made on the sneak, or even when more directly in a manner which makes them relatable to a dozen different situations. Political themes can be interpreted personally, and vice versa. "Sound of Sinking" has the most dirty sounding straight rock sounds the system has accomplished, and with its brief serpentine guitar jangle separating the first couple verses, its a favorite. I have to mention, and give alot of credit to the group aspect of the songwriting. Both the Bass and Drums are given there due, the drums in particular being given every chance for creative use of everything that can ting on a drumkit.
Musically, its denser, alot is going on, while still being the taint of the musical groin, neither hardcore nor pop, never succumbing to sterile hybrids of ten seconds of metal ten seconds of pretty emo.
Meant to be self-released before Grey flight thankfully stepped in, I'm worried that such a good band had almost fallen away. The other two bands mentioned at the beginning that came from the ashes of the slapbroadsticks both signed to new labels and acclaim. Its The honor systems turn. They don't release new material often, and they don't want to save your souls, or ears. They write honest, relevant rock songs with a sense of urgency and contact. If you want more from them, listen to a band you can have daydreams about. I get the feeling from this record they dont want anyone to discuss this record instead of living there lives. Its a record to listen to while you live about living, not to live for. If your willing to meet them halfway, this record might be for you.