Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Flatliners "Dead Language"

I have known of The Flatliners for a few years. Around the time they released third album Cavalcade in 2010 is when I first heard of them, but I never did give them enough of a chance. On that album they had a pretty good punk sound, some elements of what I’ve found to be called “melodic hardcore” though I’m not sure how “hardcore” I’d call it. However, it didn’t capture me the way I’d have wanted it to and my interest in the band, at the time, didn’t grow. Hell, I didn’t even know until about a month ago that the band formed in a town which is about a 10 minute drive from my house. Eventually I found out that the band started out as a ska-punk band, which made sense as to why a song or two on Cavalcade had a ska-punk sound.

The Flatliners; first album, 2005’s Destroy to Create is the bands only completely ska-punk album, a genre I wouldn’t fairly be qualified to assess an article on. On the non ska-punk albums, it was however well received. 2007’s The Great Awake is where the band kind of changed their sound, something similar to that of Cavalcade. What now impresses me, listening back on those albums, is the very subtle alternative influence that I can hear in the albums sound.

That brings us to 2013; and the release of the bands fourth album Dead Language. Immediately, the biggest noticeable difference is the change in lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Cresswell’s voice. While he always had a bit of a rasp in his vocal approach, he turned up that aspect of his voice to dominate his vocal style, which I believe gives the band a much more distinct sound compared to other punk bands, past and present. In fact, this new voice of his adds to the alternative sound that I heard in previous albums by the band.

Dead Language’s first track, Resuscitation of the Year starts things of nice and fast, just like any good punk song, almost sounding like a pop-punk song like Blink-182, only once Chris starts singing with that voice, any thought that this might be just another pop-punk album goes right out the window. And the speed doesn’t let up there. Bury Me continues the speed and fierceness that the album has already bestowed.

But the album isn’t all speed and three-chord punk progressions. The album shows this quickly with the track Birds of England, taking on a different style altogether that I would not call punk. I would compare this track to a song by The Killers if you added more balls to the Killers sound. The song isn’t dark or necessarily angry, but sometimes that gets lost in the vocals. However I do like the mixture of the songs sound and Chris’s voice. Ashes Away and Tail Feathers also have a similar sound and feel to Birds of England, all of which are true highlights on the album and display terrific song writing capabilities. In fact, Tail Feathers is the slowest paced song on the album, giving a good change in pace for the listener.

Drown In Blood takes on an almost grunge sound. While not a fast song, it is definitely a furious serious track that reminds me of songs that Nirvana once released, just a little more polished. Keep in mind that when Nirvana first started out, there was no “grunge” and the band was by default categorized as “punk”. Sew My Mouth Shut has a good mixture of both hardcore and pop punk sound to the music. Not the fastest songs on the album, but still very fierce, yet still catchy and easy to remember.

Caskets Full and Hounds continue the punk sound that best defines The Flatliners; not too heavy or harsh musically, catchy, yet with heavy duty thanks to the vocals. Dead Hands, Quitters and Young Professionals continue the onslaught that the albums two opening tracks started, with the fast, never letting up drum work of drummer Paul Ramirez .

The song chosen to conclude the album, Brilliant Resilience is without a doubt the best song choice to end the album with. The song has a similar structure to the opening track Resuscitation of the Year; it starts off with a simple riff that unexpectedly blasts in to a fast punk song. The main difference is the songs break-downs which slow the songs pace down.

I may go as far as to call this The Flatliners’ finest all around album. It lacks a standout track, which is something that the bands two previous albums have, but unlike the previous albums, Dead Language is consistent from start to finish with 13 tracks, well spread out and placed, that can keep any listeners attention. As the band matures, so does their music, which I always enjoy with bands; unless you have the most dedicated fans in the world, you can’t keep releasing the same album over and over. As previously mentioned, Dead Language stands out in modern punk music; because it dares to be different in a way I don’t believe I’ve heard from any other punk album.


Brilliant Resilience” –­ Rarely do I pick the closing track from an album to be the highlight, but that’s how well I believe this song was written. While it is not my favourite track from the album, my favourite track would probably be Drown in Blood, I believe Brilliant Resilience captures the essentials from the entire album and if anyone wants to know what this album provides, this track would be the best to listen to, for both newcomers to the album and newcomers to the band in general. While at its fastest the song is probably the fastest paced song on the album, it goes through changes, including the two previously mentioned breakdowns (one being longer than the other) where the song slows down to something comparable to that of a song like Tail Feathers.


8 (Out of 10)

Track List:

"Resuscitation of the Year"  
"Bury Me"  
"Birds of England"  
"Drown in Blood"  
"Sew My Mouth Shut"  
"Caskets Full"  
"Ashes Away"  
"Dead Hands"  
"Tail Feathers"  
"Young Professionals"  
"Brilliant Resilience"  

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