The Undeclinables - The Undeclinables (Cover Artwork)

The Undeclinables

The Undeclinables (2008)


The Undeclinables are not a new band. Well, at least, four-fifths of this band are not new. Formed in 1992, the band has released three full-lengths on Epitaph Records (now all out of print), Undeclinable Ambuscade lived some difficult moments after they released their last album, Sound City Burning, in 2001, after singer Jasper decided to quit the band.

So after changing their name first to Undeclinable, and then to the Undeclinables, and after recruiting a new singer from Dutch punk rockers One in a Million named Erik, the band released a new disc this year.

Seven years of silence is a lot of time for a band, and they changed a lot. Of course, not only vocally, since there's a new singer, but also musically. Compared to their previous stuff, which was super melodic and techincally amazing, the songs on the new album sound a little bit darker, faster, punker (if that ever meant anything) and less intriguing. Plus, the production does not help this band, since I was used to their previous sound and this time the music sounds recorded with semi-DIY equipment. If you add the fact that the new vocalist does not have Jasper's ability, but is more straightforward, an old-time fan might not fall in love with this album.

Nevertheless, after a couple of listens, I entered into the mood for this, and I realized how such songs as "Leads to More" and "Another Questionmark" hide some hints of pure genius, with incredibly catchy choruses and some amazing guitarwork, as on the older "One for the Money." The record is quite long, and the 12 songs go for a little more than 40 minutes, showing all the different sides of the new lineup: You can hear the old, classic skatepunk influences (the guitar riffs at the beginning of "Guess Who Blames the Fool" are classy) as well as the new more rock sound, as on "Centre of the Middle," which I cannot stand much. Okay, so the new singer has more screaming vocals, and I admire how he tries to reach Jasper's levels, but that will never work. And I miss those days when I used to sing "About Me" with its three or four vocal progressions.

In a world where most melodic hardcore bands quit (Satanic Surfers, No Fun at All) or just changed style (Millencolin), it is impressive to see how these Dutch boys are still able to release energic, fast and melodic punk rock as it was in the old days, when we all were younger.