Sick Of It All - Life On The Ropes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Sick Of It All

Life On The Ropes (2003)

Fat Wreck Chords

Wow, this is definitely not something I expected from Sick Of It All. The kings of NYHC have returned with their latest release, but they have taken a completely different path. Gone are the screamed vocals, replace with more emotive singing. The basic core of the band has remained the same, but they added keyboards and cellos to the mix. As shocking as this may sound, it seems that this recording is aimed at the Saddle Creek crowd.

Just kidding. Sick Of It All have returned with their new full-length, "Life on the Ropes", which in my opinion is better than their most recent material. Don't get me wrong, I liked "Yours Truly" as much as the next guy, but it seemed to be missing a bit of the intensity of their earlier records. I'm not sure if it was the production or what it was, but that album didn't kick my ass the same way their other stuff does. Things are different this time around, as right from the beginning this album has a much rawer feel to it. "Relentless" is the perfect way to start things, as this song hits harder than anything on their last album. The rest of the album just seems to fly by after that. I'd have to say that my favorite track on here is "Paper Tiger (Fakin' the Punk)". It's a song about people exploiting the scene and using it as a stepping stone; I know you're thinking that this has all been done before, and it has; but that doesn't stop this song from being very engaging. "Once there was a reason, once there was a soul, now just a paper tiger, roaring at the mall."

Just because this album is a bit harsher than their last release doesn't mean it's completely bereft of melody, as showcased by the song "For Now". "For Now" is the quintessential Sick Of It All sing along, I can't help but imagine this song becoming a live favorite in the future. The lyrics take a politically/socially critical bent, which isn't really much of a surprise, but it just demonstrates a band's longevity when they can write about similar issues but still do it very well every time. I never get tired of hearing Lou Koller spill his guts about things he genuinely believes in.

If you like anything they've done in the past, there should be no reason for you not to enjoy this album. This band along with Ensign got me into hardcore in the first place, so they'll always have a special place in my heart, if you're interested in hardcore at all you need to own this.

Relentless MP3