The Revolution Smile is the second band to benefit from Fred Durst's A&R genius, signing to his Flawless vanity imprint in the wake of Puddle of Mudd's inexplicable success. Thankfully, the band's major-label debut sounds nothing like the Mudd's blunt hard rock, and is nowhere near the histrionic frat rap of the Bizkit. Instead, Revolution leader Shaun Lopez (ex-Far) aims to channel the sharply rendered modern rock of Foo Fighters, fueling Above the Noise with alternately churning and droning guitars accentuated by his own vocals, which emulate Dave Grohl in the same way the Mudd's Wes Scantlin apes Kurt Cobain. The churning single "Bonethrower" opens the album, but it's a faceless slice of modern metal that does nothing to establish the band. It's only with the rock-meets-new wave groove of "Payday" and "Alien" that Lopez's songs are able to eke out some breathing room, and lend the Revolution Smile some actual identity. (The latter is forgiven for hijacking its main riff from Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You.") Besides being written almost entirely in the first person (six songs start with "I'm"), Lopez's lyrics make a minor impression; it seems like the Revolution is more about mood and general rockingness. While the tendency for the band's middle-of-the-road dynamics to suggest Filter is irritating, the application of keys and synths to tracks like "The Ride of Los Angeles" and "Gun" is an obvious stab at depth that for whatever reason actually works. The latter tune benefits especially from the atmosphere, bathed as it is in skittering percussion and vocal reverb. There are a few more "Bonethrower"-style growlers in Above the Noise's second half; indeed, it's amazing that the vituperative "Indiana Feeling" wasn't chosen as a single, if Durst et. al really wanted a heavy-hitting radio track. Unfortunately, "Cadillac Ass" and "Orange" are interchangeable, plodding parcels of metal that go nowhere fast. It's with the subtle optimism of "Looking Down the Barrel" and "I Wish I"'s slowly unfolding ache that Lopez and the Revolution Smile again make a lasting impression. These lighter, more melodic songs might not be doing much of anything new, but they're still fresher than the processed alt.metal of Above the Noise's other half. Here's hoping Durst recognizes this and markets Lopez and the Revolution Smile in turn.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus