The idea of reviewing the new album by A Wilhelm Scream is a little daunting. They are one of the more respected bands in the contemporary punk buisness and are coming off a pretty damn good album.
That being said, AWS claimed that things would be kicked up a notch on Career Suicide, even saying that songs that were not fast enough would be cut. That much seems to be true, as the album kicks off with "I Wipe My Ass with Showbiz," which is barely over a minute, sporting AWS's familiarly tight musicianship behind vocalist Nuno Pereira's shouts of "dear mother I sold my soul for management." From there, they move into two of the more technical songs they have written as of late, "5 to 9" and "The Horse." While "5 to 9" is solidly anchored in spectacular drumming and time changes, it is overshadowed by "The Horse," which tracks in at nearly five minutes and is reminiscent of the impressive guitar work seen on "The King Is Dead" (from 2005's Ruiner).
As the album progresses the hits keep coming, some fast ("Career Suicide," "Pardon Me, Thanks a Lot") and some more drawn out ("Get Mad You Son of a Bitch"). Despite this, the album never drags and seems to move at a steady pace, settling in on slower tempos only long enough for you to catch your breath before blasting into frenzied instrumentation again.
One of the biggest changes this time around for A Wilhelm Scream is the rhythm section, this being the first studio recording with new bassist Brian Robinson. When he hits a solo midway through "Jaws 3, People 0" it becomes clear that bass is not something to be left invisible on this album. The result of Robinson's talent is a very rhythm-based album. Robinson and drummer Nick Angelini leave it all out there as far as tempos and progression. Not to say that it wasn't present in past albums, but the bass and drums seem to really control the songs on Career Suicide, which is by no means a bad thing. However, the consequence is fewer melodic choruses Š la "Famous Friends and Fashion Drunks" (from 2004's Mute Print) and "When I Was Alive" (from Ruiner). Melody hasn't been phased out (see "These Dead Streets" and "Cold Slither II"), but it has become less prominent.
It seems that the overarching feel of Career Suicide is very forward-moving. Even the longest tracks don't drag and the songs do quite well at not blending together. The lyrics cover plenty of topic matter, ranging from "the scene" ("I Wipe My Ass with Showbiz") straight to a call-out to Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney ("Pardon Me, Thanks a Lot"), all with the trademark AWS bite. The extra time taken to make it seems to have paid off, as all cylinders are firing on Career Suicide.
Why only a score of 8, then? It's hard to say why, but despite its obvious strengths, Career Suicide just doesn't grip the listener like their past two full-lengths (Ruiner and Mute Print) did. I wouldn't put money on this opinion staying though, as AWS albums tend to grow on me, and this one already sounds even better a couple weeks after purchasing.
Overall, Career Suicide is a very, very good album, full of fantastic musicianship and diversity, but it's overshadowed by the success of its predecessors. The score is relative, for AWS have remained one of the best and most interesting bands out there even if they fall slightly short of their past albums. There are no complaints here though, for so long as they continue to churn out fresh-sounding albums, I'll be satisfied.