Strike Anywhere - Exit English (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Strike Anywhere

Exit English (2003)

Jade Tree

Angry, political, raucous...melodic.

A perfect continuation upon Change is a Sound, Strike Anywhere has captured the essence of everything that made their debut full-length good and magnified it tenfold. The shout-alongs raise your fist higher, the melodies nod your head more vigorously, the working-class social commentary makes you more emotionally attached to each discourse that Thomas spits in your face. It carries an overly consistent pace that grabs you right below your shirt collar and doesn't let go until the post-qualm fade of the closing track, not letting you miss a single beat.

Speaking of which, the vocals are exploring their range even more this time around. Whether it be the gravel-induced shouts a la Kid Dynamite's Jason or the soothing yearns of Lifetime's Ari Katz, Richmond's own once again serves its sound that is actually more akin to the throwback melodic hardcore days of ‘90s Jersey. Thomas has really discovered his voice, and it shows. Yes, I've already said this before, but you can really hear the emotional fluidity that he tries getting across; he sounds more impassioned than Conor Oberst perusing his seventh grade diary entries, all the while managing to avoid emphasizing the ‘emo' in emotional.

"Amplify" is actually more of a prologue to its following track, opening with the first of several pick slides in the album that help set the tempo throughout. Thomas trades off ‘hey's with his band members, until you're reminded in its corresponding song "Blaze," that the band's theme has hardly drifted from its emphasis on appealing to the cornflower-blue tie masses; "in the people's war behind the writing on the wall / in the people's war searching spoiling for a fall."

Despite its repetitious nature, "To the World" is a patriotic hymn that starts relatively subtle with a mid-tempo beat, and gradually speeds up until pledging "allegiance to the world / nothing more, nothing less than my humanity!" The systematic approach at changing up each line combination ironically helps increase the sporadically anthemic nature of the song.

Not to be defeated by purpose, many of the songs' introductions sometimes act as direct clashes as opposed to the rest of the song, smartly luring you in until slamming your face to the mat, whereas some fit in perfectly and flow naturally. The just-over-a-minute long "Fifth Estate" one-twos you with its drum pounding and ‘whoa-uh-oh's, and chugs along with its yearning yells and abrupt finish of "our own truth!" Following, "Modern Life" exemplifies beautifully the idea of differentially impounding the introduction into your head by using long chord-strikings and a turned up bass line, until after twenty seconds the pace picks up and you can't help but help out the rest of the band with their continuously backing ‘whoa's.

Light feedback with the distorted guitar intro proves "Aluminum Union" isn't here to break things up, with the catchy "to wait" only keeping attention full intact. At the chorus-verse break-off in "In the Fingernails", there are abruptly-layered shouts to patch any holes of potentially slowing down. The breakdown of "‘Til Days Shall Be No More" lets go of you one arthritis-riddled finger at a time, ensuring you got the message.

It is overall a more complete sound than CiaS that proves some bands aping genres created last century can not only do it well, but manipulate every little thing to upgrade it to a 21st-century polish that shines like wildfire. Strike Anywhere have lit the match and have already set it ablaze.

"To the World"

Exit English