As a big fan of Attack Attack! it’s safe to say that I was stoked when I heard they would be doing a reissue of their self-titled sophomore effort. It seemed appropriate to me that, one year later, the album that had been the soundtrack to my summer of 2010 would return to breathe new life into the months of July and August. Listening to this album was both nostalgic and renewing for me. Read on to see what I thought of this deluxe reissue, which includes 4 new tracks, 2 remixes, and 2 acoustic pieces.
The record starts off with the new tracks that are unique to this release. I really hate to say it, but this part of the album disappointed me. Vocalist Caleb Shomo’s voice seems strained, higher than usual, and seems to lack that “oomph” that I’ve come to associate with his vocal style. Opening track “Last Breath” makes good use of synthesizers and sound engineering, but still seems repetitive and lacks the commanding quality of previously released tracks. Of course, Attack Attack! doesn’t fail listeners when it comes to the breakdown of the song, but otherwise this song does not strike me as exceptional. Second track “Pick A Side” begins with a familiar sounding guitar part, and draws audiences in with a satisfactory drop. Although I enjoyed being able to hear the lyrics (I need to find the reason for life/before I am hollow inside), this song lacks a steady vocal part and seems overpowered by the guitar section. It’s also very short, leaving very little time for redemption. Again, with third track “Criminal” I was disappointed to hear a guitar part all-too-similar to previously released songs by Attack Attack! Reminiscent of Escape the Fate, “Criminal” is poppy, short, and dare I say, almost radio ready. The track is saved by an interesting technical electronic section towards the middle, but otherwise lacks the spice that was evident on the original self-titled release. The fourth new track on the reissue, “All Alone“, is a solid track, but lacked the wow-factor that typically draws me into Attack Attack’s music. It seemed bland and uncharacteristic of the Ohio four piece, rife with tired chord progressions and boring structure. In fact, it was downright sweet sounding in the eyes of a seasoned fan, and though I appreciate Attack Attack’s move in a slightly softer direction, it was not personally something I expected to hear.
However, I was entirely impressed and excited about the second half of the new content released on this reissue. The remix of “Sexual Man Chocolate“, a personal favorite, is absolutely delicious. The opening section delights with a bubbly build-up to a fantastic drop, and seems to pump the urge to dance right into listeners’ bodies. I want to give a huge round of applause to Attack Attack! for making what is pretty much a perfect remix; they have managed to retain the integrity of the original song while at the same time completely reinventing it. Additionally, the band’s remix of AC-130 is another gem. Although the only remnant left of the original track is the fan favorite battle cry of “You’re better off dead!” this remix has an opening melody that drips down the staff until it has listeners begging for the drop. Even the most steadfast wallflowers will find the need to dance irresistibly.
Finally, the acoustic tracks on this reissue deliver a listening experience that fans of the Punk Goes Acoustic series will certainly relish. Caleb Shomo’s voice sounds wonderful in an acoustic format, and the stripped down sound creates an excellent spotlight for the lyrics of the songs. Listening to Shomo croon out the words “Cause I don’t want to know/who you really are/I thought you would’ve learned your lesson by now” in an acoustic version of “I Swear I’ll Change” creates a raw quality that wasn’t present on the original recording, and the same goes for the acoustic version of “Turbo Swag“. The bare-bones approach to this stand-out track completely changes the impact made by the song, lending itself to a more haunting and emotional feel. These unplugged tracks are the true gems of this reissue, shining a light on the talent and power that caused me to fall in love with Attack Attack’s self-titled album in the first place.
The Final Word: I guess it’s safe to say that although I was disappointed by some of the original songs unique to this reissue, in a way the stark contrast between new and “old” made one thing clear: Attack Attack! have an ability to take something that they’ve already shown you (the song “Sexual Man Chocolate“, for example) and reinvent it in a way that not only reminds the listener of how good it was to begin with, but also that it has the potential to be just as good if not better than the original. Listening to this album showed me that Attack Attack! are most definitely trendsetters and can therefore make use of interesting beat down sections and musical engineering that surprises – and should allow themselves to stay that way. Like oil and water, “bland” and Attack Attack! Just don’t mix.