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Review: Four Year Strong return with grittiest album yet

Album Review

The Massachusetts quartet turn up the punx on their fifth album

Living up to their name by leaving a four-year gap between their last release and their fifth studio album are Four Year Strong, who are back with their grittiest, most punk-inspired record so far.

Living up to their name by leaving a four-year gap between their last release and their fifth studio album are Four Year Strong, who are back with their grittiest, most punk-inspired record so far.

For the self-titled release, they’ve enlisted the deft fingers of Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou on production, and his influence is clear. Gone is the polished easycore heard on their previous records, and in its place are razor-edged riffs, syncopation and plenty of nods towards the darker side of the hardcore genre. The cover art features an illustration of a hairy, breasted man, and the lyrics – right from the opening track I Hold Myself In Contempt, play on themes like death and revenge, rather than the three 'L's – love, lust and loss – beloved of pop-punk. 

It was frontman Dan O’Connor’s intention to make a record with more guts; he describes it in the official release literature as “one of the most raw records we’ve ever made. No fancy computer shit. [It’s] made for singing along and head banging.”

Computer shit is indeed gone – former synth player Josh Lyford left the band in 2011, when it was decided to shed the softer elements of their sound. If they were aiming to tread the path of gnarly punk from then on, they’ve achieved it, while still keeping their signature bouncy riffs.  Whether or not that’s a positive thing is really down to how far you, as a listener, want their dalliance with hardcore to go.

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