I ordered this whilst drunk having heard one track on MySpace and, to be honest, forgot about it until I had an email informing me that it had been dispatched.
So, it was with trepidation that I opened the package to find not only a CD but also a free shirt that came with it. The immediate thing that hit me was that this band had a thing for the film The Wanderers. When I was a teenager, this and The Warriors were two must-see films. I didn't think much of the former but liked the latter, so that wasn't a good omen for this album. The cover art is a total homage to the film with the colouring and lettering resembling that of the film.
Therefore, I was even more worried now on what might be contained within the record and reading through the song titles I began to regret the purchase. The tracks included "Wanderers Forever," "Kings of the Cleveland Streets," "Coffin Brothers," "The Contender" and "The Blood Stays on the Blade"--all in all, a very tough-guy suite of songs and had me thinking of some of the really bad street punk bands out there. It wasn't sending out good vibes as I'm not a big fan of music that depends on people being tough or even perceived as such.
I put the CD in and it surprisingly opened with a buzzsaw guitar and rolling drums that was pretty fine-sounding...so far so good...and it kicked into a pretty decent opening (title) track, that demonstrates a crossover between hardcore and street punk that reminded me, initially, of the Italian band Strength Approach.
Actually, this album has all of the constituent parts that I generally look for in a record--good guitar sound, tunes, decent vocals and a mix that doesn't overplay any one part of those involved. What it does lack, though, is that element of synergy that would make it stand out from the plethora of other releases around.
However, across the 15 tracks, there really is only one clunker and for me that is the cover of "Danny Boy." Why, oh why, do bands do things like this? I appreciate if you've got links to a nation that is not where you live, not where you were brought up in, or have possibly never visited you want to recognise this, but really, "Danny Boy"?! This is one of the worst songs I've heard in ages, but I will forgive American Werewolves that because I'm in a forgiving mood as I write this.
In summary, this album entertains me and has me reaching for my air guitar (Gibson SG being my choice) on numerous occasions, but for all that, it falls short of being an album that is likely to stay rooted in my head. Lyrically, it could be dealing with things like doorknobs, as it offers nothing insightful or even remotely interesting--but then, punk is not all Bad Religion or Propagandhi. I can handle it quite easily, so I won't make too much of that, but do want to warn those who seek out American Werewolves not to expect anything too deep.
To say this album is unremarkable would be doing it an injustice. It is quite enjoyable and certainly is not the worst thing I've bought this year by a long stretch, but it's unlikely to be one of those records that you keep turning to or fervently recommend to friends.
One final thing. Do people who photograph hardcore/streetpunk bands say "Frown" when taking photos? It is getting a bit old-hat to see a group of people trying to look tough or hard in pictures--I'm sure that if they smiled it wouldn't change what they're trying to convey! Go on, try it. Say "Cheese" and smile!!