El Diablo Dinner Theatre

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On El Diablo Dinner Theatre, F**Bomb plays what starts as accomplished melodic hardcore and turns into something entirely more eclectic. The sound might be decidedly lo-fi, but instead of reviving acts like Lifetime, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Strife, or gravitating toward the increasingly generic pop-punk field, the band tackles challenging material that mingles Sonic Youth and Black Flag (on the album's best tracks "Like a Song" and "So Much for the Long Goodbye"), and, at times, even some pop and country. At its noisiest, F**Bomb's guitars are angular, the vocals are torn, and the lyrics are tormented. "Promise" hints at Dinosaur Jr., but no one will ever match the noise and melancholy punk treatment of that beloved band. Radiator takes an odd turn down a bittersweet country road, but then it is back to distorted, old-school punk on "Hunted." Go figure. You have to applaud F**Bomb for trying different styles, but El Diablo Dinner Theatre sometimes sounds like it includes songs that would best have been left as B-sides or studio practice tunes -- "Afraid of the Spotlight" and "Space Debris" just don't belong. The real impressive move would either be to merge all of the different styles in each song, or to focus on honing the band's greatest strengths -- "So Much for the Long Goodbye," for example, could have made a great single.