Simon Says made an admirable dent in the hard rock scene with their emo tinged Hollywood Records debut, "Jump Start", which garnered them a considerable string of tours and even a few TV performances. However, those who grew accustomed to the more restrained melodic aspects of their previous effort are in for one hell of a surprise here, as they've now gratuitously multiplied the levels of aggression they possess, spewing forth a charring 11 track opus filled with unrelenting modern metal riffs and vitriolic screams. Akin to the likes of finger eleven, Filter and Staind, the bands heady mix of searing intensity coupled with emphatic bitter sweet vocals is an invigorating change of pace from the doldrums of today's trendy rap influenced new metal.
With a sound similar to the likes of Filter frontman Richard Patrick, band vocalist Matt Franks launches into his verses with an sense of sneering resentment that powerfully fuels the songs, begrudgingly force-feeding them down the listeners throat. Accentuated by a finely honed burst of hushed melody, the oral portion of this CD effortlessly smashes the listeners head in from both sides of the emotional spectrum. The guitar playing included here is a bit more guarded however, using intriguing harmonics and spacey strums which echo throughout the songs, only to burst into a ferocious full on riff heavy assault that can surprise its victim like a deer in headlights. Following the lead of its six stringed compatriot, the basslines utilize a moderately downtuned attack that builds the songs up to a steady simmer, bubbling over with gritty unhinged lunges that surface whenever an extra boost of aggression is called for. Backed by an edgy and solid performance laid down by drummer Mike Johnston, who adds liberal cymbal splashes of cymbal to his generally pushy playing style, the album tends to stay firmly on track, charging forth at a rigid pace to bowl the listener over.
As a whole the album is a fairly moody affair, touching upon a handful of various issues and experimenting with many different song structures which sound somewhere in between the likes of Failure and Filter. It's inherently heavy, littered with bruising riffs and yet there's also a sullen, more softer side, striking a strong dynamic contrast somewhere between the parallels of melodic modern metal and alternative rock. Admittedly, a few of the latter songs can meander a bit, becoming perhaps a bit too self indulgent and slow tempo'd, but with a number of the tracks being sharply tuned crunchers, its easy to overlook. Whether or not this album has enough juice and individuality to establish the band a firm place in the scene is something that will inevitably be decided by the masses in due time; but with solid song writing and a surprising amount of rock solid songs rife with punishing riffs, it definitely should be enough to warrant a place in the collection of any fan of melodic modern metal.
(4 / 5)