Kids Like Us - The Game (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Kids Like Us

The Game (2009)


The Game is gator state natives Kids Like Us' third full-length and it seems to be their attempt at producing a singular cohesive sound. One could speculate that the title of the record, as well as the lyrical references to it, are assertion of their understanding and subsequent dominance in the field of hardcore. Yet, that would mean that they refer to what they do as "the game" and anyone that refers to their particular lifestyle/genre/industry/what-have-you as "the game" deserves to be put in the stockade and made the subject of public mockery. But I digress, for the most part; Kids Like Us has seemed to at least define their own personality here, paring down their hardcore punk, thrash metal and southern rock influences into a thrashy hardcore record that avoids too much frill or bad cliché. It kind of suffers from lack of a completely unique personality, but hey, no one is perfect.

The slow feedback-ridden buildup to "The Motorcycle Boy Returns" leads into some winding thrash with a decidedly mixed vocal performance from Lars Lundquist. While he occasionally delves into a forced deeper-register hardcore belch and his kick of "yeeeeeooowwww" smacks of late-era Metallica dreg, his sinister laugh and throat-shredding screams later in the song more than make up for it. The gang vocals that pop up at the end of the song have a distant tin can recording quality that gives it kind of a spontaneous feel that keeps them from being contrived.

While Lars really seems to carry the record, doing his job as a great hardcore frontman, it would be a great disservice to ignore how great some of these guitar riffs here really are. "Serve the South" simply rips with one of the most memorable breakdowns I've heard in awhile, and "Black Box Warning" has great leads and oddly closes with a short but effective solo without wasting time on superfluous guitar heroics boring everyone and their moms.

A few spots here and there like "Snitchblade" and "Evil People" kind of skim the surface of metal cheese. I can understand the band's desire to delve into the more metallic realm of their personality but they show they can do it without the boring riffs. Thankfully, by the album closer "The Game," the killer riffage has returned to melt faces and wet man panties.

If you are looking for something fun to skate to or just headbang with your brosephines, The Game is a solid choice. However, in terms of something definitive in the hardcore/thrash genre, Kids Like Us still have some kinks to work out.