About a month after Geffen Records attempted to sum up New Found Glory's past with Hits, the band has bounced into the future with the dual release of the Tip of the Iceberg EP and Takin' It Ova!, the latter a full-length from alter-ego / side project International Superheroes of Hardcore. The inaugural Bridge Nine release for NFG, both albums mark a harder sound that hasn't been heard in some time. This shift is a welcome one after the flaccid, overproduced major label swan song Coming Home.
Tip of the Iceberg consists of three originals and three covers and, to be honest, the originals are the weakest section of the whole package. These cuts hearken back to the hardcore-influenced pop-punk the band showcased on its 2000 self-titled release, but never quite surpass it. They sound competent, but compared to Takin' It Ova!, the band doesn't sound that interested or interesting.
As for the covers, how could you go wrong with Gorilla Biscuits and Lifetime? They're like pasta and PBJs; you'd have to be a jerk to mess them up. NFG's cover of GB's "No Reason Why" and Lifetime's "Cut the Tension" aren't too obvious of choices, which is nice, and they're fun to boot. "No Reason Why" loses some of its bite in the translation, but it's still a decent cover.
I must confess I'm not familiar with Shelter, the third band NFG covers here. So, while the band's version of "Here We Go" could very well be the most bastardly bastardization of all time, to me it sounds pretty gosh dang catchy. Pogo-worthy and filled with hooks, "Here We Go" is the standout cut of Tip of the Iceberg.
NFG seems to turn up the energy with each section. The originals are kind of peppy, the covers rock and as for International Superheroes of Hardcore, well‚?¶it's an experience. Vocalist Jordan Pundik and guitarist Chad Gilbert switch roles for Takin' It Ova!, and it's awesome to hear Gilbert's scream 11 years after he left hardcore/metal outfit Shai Halud. The whole record is a big goofy time.
Takin' It Ova! splits its time between parodying hardcore and singing about pop culture, with mixed results. Gilbert's critiques of hXc culture never go too deep ("You're all a bunch of little wieners" goes one line from "Fashion Show," an anti-scene song). While songs like "Screamo Gotta Go" are certainly true, the lack of eloquence robs the jokes of being zingers.
Sometimes, though, ISHC is perfect. I'm referring to "Back to the Future," and its hilarious/awesome intro. "Roads? Where we're going we don't need no‚?¶" Gilbert says before bellowing "Roads!" to introduce this fast beat-laden tune. "Back to the Future" talks about wanting to see `80s hardcore bands in their heyday, and mixing that wish with Marty McFly references is stupid-genius. Similar results can be found on "Just Like Dr. Jones."
ISHC's novelty gets old after a few repeat listens, but it's definitely worth having overall for NFG fans. You can even play it for the kids; songs "Dirty Mouth" and "Seat Belt" extol the virtues of clean talkin' and proper automobile safety thoroughly. Tip of the Iceberg, meanwhile, is a grower. Last year's From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II was kind of middling, but the covers here are top notch. Now if only the band could get into its non-joke, non-cover songs.