If you're like me, then ska was a major gateway into the world of punk rock. It has been my experience that this in fact holds true for a great many people in my respective area. For everywhere you look in southern Ontario you can find bands playing or incorporating elements of ska, dub and reggae. It seems highly logical then that such a scene would produce a band that could seamlessly blend upbeat ska with fierce punk rock. Indeed such a band exists, and that band is the Flatliners.
Part of what's so impressive about Destroy to Create is in its presentation. On the packaging and production ends, the album both looks and sounds very professional. While the band is currently on Stomp Records, the album is virtually identical to the self-released version they sold at shows. This highlights the care and dedication put into the album in that it was good enough to release without any re-recording.
Now onto what the band actually sounds like. I've had heard people complain that ska as a genre is far too poppy. I can safely say that if there is a problem in that to be found, it is nowhere to be found with the Flatliners. They avoid the issue of tired horn lines by keeping it a simple guitar, drum and bass affair, albeit with some assistance of an organ to add some flavour. The lyrics are of the social conscious, from the general disheartening state of the world around us on "Fred's Got Slacks" to alcoholism on "Macoretta Boozer." You will probably need the lyric booklet though. Vocalist Chris Cresswell doesn't have the most distinctive voice, but he has one of the most rapid-fire deliveries in punk today.
Oftentimes with young band's first albums the sequencing can fail them. The Flatliners escape this pitfall as well. "Fred's Got Slacks," the first real song on the album, sets the general tone for the proceeding 13 songs: quickly strummed upstrokes combined with gruff power chords. It rushes past aided by a likable chorus, but also memorable couplets in the verses and original guitar work to provide a memorable listen. This all culminates before the final chorus with the repeatedly chanted "Hands up! Fists high!" and distant crooning of "We're apathetic, we're so pathetic." It might just be my shared youth with the band, but there is something undeniable about the combined snot and defiance put forth in those lines. The middle of the album keeps things going strong such as "Bad News," which tackles the subject of the negativity inherent in the media today. This song is far more mid-tempo and its verses are built around an upstroke rhythm but feature complimentary melancholic guitar parts which accent the gloomy atmosphere. Rounding out the song is a solid bassline, interesting drum fills and another winning chorus of, "Freight train headed for me / and I can't see a thing / freight train headed for me / freight train of destruction like a punch in the face." A hidden acoustic song acts as a bookend for the album. This song displays how truly tuneful Chris has the potential to be.
Destroy to Create shows a young band full of energy and promise. They are able to craft unique songs with enough variation to keep the listener's interest sustained without having to turn their back on their core sound completely. If you are a fan of ska-punk in the vein of the Code or the Suicide Machines or even just aggressive pissed off punk, you will not be disappointed with this release.
Stream four songs on their Punknews.org Profile.