I have to admit, reading “former members of Glassjaw” next to the new Classic Case CD, Losing at Life, was enough to rouse my interest momentarily. Sadly, as I would come to find out, it’s actually just one former member of Glassjaw, and it’s drummer Durijah Lang. That’s nothing against drummers, they just don’t typically contribute a whole lot to the songwriting process.
The other alumnus in Classic Case is Josh Moore, formerly of Beloved, a Christian metalcore band that shared the stage with the likes of Underoath and Norma Jean. Although that’s probably enough to make anyone cringe, Classic Case is luckily nowhere near as appalling as either of those bands.
“Into a Nightmare” leads off the album with a kicking drumbeat and semi-angular palm-muted guitar playing that comes off as mildly aggressive despite the mellow, drifting vocals. The chorus lacks a real hook, but could probably win over listeners of any rock radio station. The post-hardcore abilities of Classic Case are revealed on “Unsteady,” though the average-to-poor emo lyrics are a total buzzkill.
Not all of Classic Case’s lyrics are entirely disposable, however. Having written the surprisingly dissenting “Fun Like War” for their 2005 album Dress to Depress, it seems the band devotes approximately one song per album on substantive, evocative songwriting. On Losing at Life the song is “Scott Free,” one of the highlights of the album that delivers a no-nonsense critique of the culture of fear our government and media have produced: "Distract everyone and they won’t get to the bottom of this / We’ll never know what we’ve done as long as we keep ‘em useless and dumb / […] / Fear of violence changes the way we think of defiance." Granted, it may only be one song, but it shows a social awareness severely lacking in the vast majority of their scene’s overtly self-involved contemporaries. “All of Us are in Danger” is another fairly good post-hardcore track that may have lyrics that can be construed as somewhat substantive, while “Stalemate (Falling in Love)” is yet another example of a decent song spoiled by cheesy lyrics.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just poor, plain and simple. From the dull and lifeless title track to the nü-rock attempt in “Vampires” to the uninspired “Elevator Phobia” (despite the promising song title), boredom is the only emotion capable of being evoked.
For a band with so much potential, Classic Case fall short on Losing at Life. Maybe it’s due to their attempt to appeal to the scene, maybe they actually dig the awful acoustic tracks, but it’s clear in songs like “Scott Free” and “All of Us Are in Danger” that Classic Case has much more to offer than this largely inconsistent effort.