Subway to Sally

Bastard

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A cuss word in the title indicates that this time, Subway to Sally are really angry (though not Black Flag-angry, or it wouldn't be just "bastard"), and indeed, though the band was never the one to sing hymns of rainbows and sunny days, this album may be their darkest record to date. Unfortunately, this doesn't equal "best"; on the contrary, it seems like the group tried to use dark emotions as a cover for the simple fact that Bastard is just a by-the-numbers entry in their catalog. Now, average Subway to Sally is still not half bad: there's a level of quality below which they are unable to sink, if only on the strength of the components their music is made of. Bastard still stitches classic alternative rock/metal riffs that wouldn't be out of place on a Three Days Grace or Alice in Chains album with folk music and grim Teutonic power metal bombast: the songs have enough speed, the guitars work together with a fiddle, and the slightly bleating, commonplace voice of Eric Fish is dripping with venom of an intelligent peasant one hand's stretch away from taking up a torch and a pitchfork against the injustices of this world. There are ballads, too; perhaps more of them than is prudent to have for dynamics' sake, though most Subway to Sally albums give that feeling. But this time the songwriting is stretched too thin: instead of proper hooks, the tunes are often built around bland simplistic riffs, with the rest of the band just following the guitar melodies without adding anything else to the music. Some European heavy rock bands, such as Rammstein or H.I.M., can make it work, but Subway to Sally are fun when they play clever, and when they don't, as on Bastard, they sound like they are lacking something -- most likely, inspiration.

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