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Music Review: Four Year Strong – Rise or Die Trying

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Imagine Discovery Channel’s Shark Week meets Lost in Space: a wizard rides a giant squid above Earth and is surrounded by mechanical sharks. No, it’s not Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest fluff, it’s the imaginative cover art for Four Year Strong’s debut CD, Rise or Die Trying. If you buy your CD’s based on the cover art (yes, I have), then Rise or Die Trying one you’ll want to pick up.

But what about the music? It sounds like a mix of Offspring and Bowling For Soup, with the occasional injection of your favorite thrash band – energetic, snappy, imaginative, and a little mad now and again. Pretend you’ve loaded yourself up on Monster energy drinks – and maybe a little crack – and you’ve got the idea. I thought the song titles were hilarious: “Beatdown in the Key of Happy”, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell”, “If He’s Here, Who’s Running Hell?” The band certainly has a sense of humor. No doubt they take their music seriously, but with a cavalier demeanor.

The drummer showed off some nice footwork, some quick double bass action, and some cascading fills. The whole band moves between musical styles seamlessly. For example, the aforementioned “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell” races along in good punk style, then morphs into a decent bit of metal for a few seconds – some quick, guttural vocals and slow, heavy guitar – then returns to punk. They must be great at doing a montage. There are virtually no gaps in between tracks so the whole CD comes off as one big hyper song.

Rise or Die Trying is really a lot of fun. It becomes addictive. The songs don’t fall off the tip of my tongue and I can’t replicate all the riffs in my head like I do with many other songs, but the music is still enjoyable. It’s got the punk attitude and just enough metal undertones to add a little bite. A very interesting mix and I look forward to hearing more from Four Year Strong.

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