The T4 Project is the supergroup of all supergroups. In fact, a new term needs to be created to describe how large and super this group is. Featuring members of….deep breath here…Pennywise, Bad Religion, Circle Jerks, Porno for Pyros, From Satellite, Citizen Fish, Subhumans, Morrissey, the Damned, Buzzcocks, Glass and Ashes, the Screamers, Nina Hagen, Naked Aggression, Strung Out, Meet the Virus, and the Ventura College Choir totaling two drummers, two bassists, three guitarists, one keyboard, two vocalists and forty backing vocalists. The result, Story-Based Concept Album is a grandiose effort at creating one of the most over-the-top, elaborately fashioned punk albums ever.
Story-Based Concept Album was recorded over two and a half years in seven different studios. It is a very well-produced album, as clean as the albums from all the members’ other bands. There are eight little socio-political oriented ‘commercials’ littered throughout the album. When it boils down to it, Story-Based Concept Album is incredible looking on paper. Everything...the idea, the members involved, and how it was presented are seemingly a punker’s dream.
The first actual song, “Introduction” is a fine showing of what the T4 Project sounds like. There is a definite Strung Out feeling here going beyond the fact that they share the same vocalist. The guitars have a metallic tinge at times and with so many musicians the songs are much more layered than your standard punk affair. Many of the songs carry a heavy melodic edge and at points almost seem to be diving into the realm of melodic hardcore. Unfortunately, with so many members, many times the album still sounds like a band of normal size. The bass, although prominent at points, sounds like one bassist. Same for the drums.
As good as the T4 Project looks on paper, something seems to be lacking on the actual album. The production is clean, the songs structures are crisp, but everything is just a little too clean, just a little too crisp. And that is just it. As impressive as the T4 Project is, it is too well-put together and at many times, the songs sound just a little too robotic. There is hardly a standout track throughout Story-Based Concept Album that showcases heart and energy, two of punk rock’s most basic foundations.
There is a definite agenda here and to its credit the T4 Project presents it in a semi-interesting and new way. Each commercial takes a various national issue and gets the point across through some healthy cynicism and sarcasm. But these commercials reoccur too often. Most of the songs are promptly followed by one of them, eliminating any chance for the album to solidly flow from one song to the next. Any highlights on the album like “Interrogation” lose momentum when these commercials come on.
Maybe the music wasn’t the point behind the T4 Project, or at least that is what it seems like. The übergroup boasts an impressive roster to say the least and an equally impressive production scape, virtually spanning more time in the making than most bands spend existing. But in the end, punk rock, as much as it is about the message, is equally about the music. This is a mediocre album masked behind the famous faces making it a talked-about story. Story-Based Concept Album is a hopeful idea that fails because it feels more like it was churned out of a machine than the collective musical minds of the people involved.