If you like your punk fast, your drums hard, your vocals kind of annoying and all of the above delivered with a brazen attitude that’s reminiscent of a time that certainly isn’t 2013, then The Flatliners are the band for you.
The two opening tracks on their latest record, ‘Dead Language’, come at you like a freight train. It’s hard to not play the songs a few times over, simply because they come and go pretty fast (even though they’re over five minutes long put together) and you may miss them before you’ve even taken them in. Also, because they’re so intense and hard hitting, it’s difficult to not be bowled over by them.
So, when third track, ‘Birds Of England’, comes along, you’re happy there’s a little respite in terms of the pacing and the forcefulness that the prior two tracks bring. It sounds like a solid punk rock track that’s in the same vain of the high quality material of bands like Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem, which is most certainly a good thing.
In all honesty, though, the problem that sticks out when you’ve listened to this record a couple of times over is the lead vocals. Sure, they’ve got plenty of kick to them, but they just grate a little bit and therefore you end up judging every song (albeit unfairly) by the quality and annoyance of the vocals. Take a song like ‘Sew My Mouth Shut’; it’s a rousing anthem which treads along at break-neck speed and has some really great screams halfway through, and you end up longing for that kind of vocal quality and bite because the majority of the vocals are just a little bit irritating unfortunately.
In all fairness, the vocals aren’t dreadful and on some of the songs like ‘Tail Feathers’ the growl-style does really work well and the band bring in some group harmonies/sing-alongs, which add a real spirit to the track. Overall, though, the abrasively obtuse nature of the record just doesn’t really hit any kind of emotional nerve and the album just seems to be a solid punk rock release and nothing more.
Written by Greg Spencer