STRETCH ARM STRONG – Engage

Solid State Records‘ own STRETCH ARM STRONG comes back with their third album, the energetic and concise Engage. While the band have always seemed to dabble around between genres, throwing in elements of punk, hardcore and even hip-hop throughout their music, Engage primarily sticks to an old school hardcore feel, a la SICK OF IT ALL. Vocalist Chris McLane‘s throaty howl brings to mind such SICK OF IT ALL albums as Scratch the Surface, but the production mix almost makes the guitars sound rather punk-ish. The inspirational “Raise Your Fist” should have the punk kids pumping their fists, while the breakdown-laden “Rising Again” will have the hardcore kids relentlessly kung-fu dancing in the pit. Surprisingly enough, a few radio-friendly tracks are even thrown in the mix, such as “Miles Apart,” falling somewhere between LONGFELLOW and MXPX; while the hooky “Black Clouds” could easily be something you’d see the video for on M2 at some point. The biggest oddity found on Engage, however, is the ferentic hip-hop rhymes of closing track “Express Yourself.” Quite frankly, it sounds really stupid, out of place and downright cheesy, capping off Engage on a fairly awkward note. Regardless, fans of punk and hardcore alike will easily dig the other 10 tracks found on STRETCH ARM STRONG‘s latest release. Just don’t expect anything you haven’t heard before. (Solid State)

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