The Forty Whacks - Dying Is So Last Year (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Forty Whacks

Dying Is So Last Year (2012)

Moriarty Records

The Forty Whacks' debut EP was quite a refreshing affair, which took a varied approach to punk rock, delivering as it did the occasional metal influences albeit more from bands such as System of a Down, taking the genre down a different path, rather than the more established bands from that musical style. New release Dying Is So Last Year opens up with "Storm the Palace," which both in title and lyrical content seems to refer to the riots in London during the summer of 2011, although I could be wrong. This is a strong pop-punk track and it features very good musicianship on both stringed instruments along with vocals that do the required job of creating a likeable and enjoyable song.

"Get Your Hands Off My Girl" is a more straightforward pop-punk song which retains the vibrant bass work of the preceding track helping to drive it along aiding the band in cranking out a catchy track that at times sounds like the Teen Idols. Johnny Piero's vocals are clean and crisp (a feature that was prominent on the debut release) and the backing vocals do a fine job of adding some layers to the song. This is probably the best song I've heard from the Forty Whacks across both EPs.

"Ants and Aphids" is where this EP changes, as the Forty Whacks build up a slightly longer song (over four minutes) and it comes across as being more akin to the Blue Meanies, with just a bit more of an edge than the first two tracks. "Zephelium" is yet another slight change in direction and here I'm getting hints of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at times mixed in with a pop-punk edge. Perhaps the title of the track itself is a nod towards the huge Californian funksters too?

The EP is brought to a close by "Heaven Denies Me" and this is where the System of a Down influence is heard. There is more of a metallic riffing guitar throughout the song accompanied by a soft and loud approach favored by the aforementioned SOAD, and even Piero's vocals remind me of those of Serj Tankian too. I like this song but do think it goes on a bit too long and my interest wanes somewhat during its middle.

From some bands, these shifts in musical genres might be difficult to appreciate for some listeners but on the whole the Forty Whacks manage to pull it off well enough to ensure that its releases are easily digestible without going off on major tangents. It is possible, though, that by not being able to be pigeonholed it might stop them from finding a niche to nestle in and limit the ability to find people who are willing to give the music a go. I would add that if the band wanted to concentrate on a more pop-punk approach it certainly has the ability to carve out a more distinctive (and successful) "career" if so desired but I fully understand that for some it's not always a career driven decision which should always be applauded.