Straight Line Stitch

The Fight of Our Lives

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As with Straight Line Stitch's previous album, When Skies Wash Ashore, The Fight of Our Lives demonstrates the distinguishing characteristic of the band (which might also be called its gimmick): that it veers back and forth between being a hardcore heavy metal group and an outfit that merely plays melodic hard rock. That dichotomy is expressed in the music, which one minute can display all the clich├ęs of extreme metal -- the pummeling double bass drums, the rigid power chords on guitar -- and the next can back off somewhat to a more mainstream rock approach. But it is particularly personified in the vocals of Alexis Brown, who continually changes off between an enraged metal howl and a more conventional, female rock singer style in the manner of Evanescence's Amy Lee. On record, it can be assumed that Brown is overdubbing the radically different parts, since they sometimes overlap somewhat, and the singing parts often seem doubled. How she gets through concerts performing this trick is hard to imagine. The two roles complement and comment on each other, as Brown sometimes seconds the same lines in her different voices or, as in "Never Surrender," uses the howl as backup vocalist to the singing lead. The songs express the usual gloom and anger of heavy metal, albeit with a female perspective on occasion. There is more singing as the disc goes on, and, just as When Skies Wash Ashore closed with the ballad "Yesterday's Gone," The Fight of Our Lives signs off with "Ashes in the Wind," a power ballad. This is not unlike the heavy metal version of the fashion for rapper-and-singer songs, in which rappers take the verses while a singer comes in on the choruses. In those tracks, of course, the rapper and singer are two different people, however; here, Alexis Brown takes both parts.

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