Within the span of two minutes on "The Lonely Zagreb," lead singer Bryan Gray leads his group into punk rock, aggressive pop à la nu-metal, and some quasi-intense rock, but the song suffers miserably as a result. While the musicianship is steady, the twists and turns lose a lot of steam much too early for some of the songs on Give Us Barabbas to be salvaged. "1200 Stares" has a great arena rock riff pulsating through it, but the stops and starts of the "angry" vocals just don't mesh, making a promising song disappointing. The band is seemingly better when sticking to one format and toughing it out, and "You Not Me" recalls -- albeit briefly -- At the Drive-In at a high point. Fortunately, each song tends to build momentum, leading to an improved second half. "Open Mouth" has a gritty, quasi-heavy metal rhythm, but Gray's incessant howling adds little in substance or context. "Fictionary" hints at punk rock but, like most of the songs here, veers into a new direction in a short amount of time. "Prayer for the Dead" is a very credible tune, even with the orchestral portion seemingly out of line with the track. Closing on "Best in Show," the band has created a hit-and-miss affair, which is sad given the seeds in each track.
AllMusic Review by Jason MacNeil