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Anger Denial Acceptance

Century Media (2012)
Rating: 8.5/10

After a six-year hiatus, and even longer since their last album (2003’s Self-Destructive Pattern), Los Angeles-based Spineshank return with the appropriately titled Anger Denial Acceptance, a coming of age album if there ever was one.

When last we left the gents they were struggling to find their place in a rapidly changing music scene. Upon their second coming, Spineshank know exactly who they are and craft an album that boldly proclaims it. This isn’t the band you loved when you were 16, this is that band all grown up, just like you should be.

On one hand, Spineshank are heavier here than they have ever been. Don’t let the soaring chorus of ‘Murder Suicide’ fool you because in between the melodic choruses the band wail and writhe like they rarely have before. The angered march ‘Everything Everyone Everywhere Ends’ tears through walls and by the time you reach the song’s end the band have slowly spit their innards out and tread on them.

‘God Complex (Anger)’ finds the band barking and screaming at high speeds, backing up the subtitle extremely well. On the other side of this album you have really dynamic hard rock songs that border on metal. The first three songs lead the way (‘After the End’, ‘Nothing Left For Me’ and the title track), not at all shying away from the band’s more emotional approach to this album.

Spineshank lands a strange kind of balance here, bringing to mind bands like Life of Agony, mid-career Staind, and Chevelle simultaneously. While some fans might cringe at that statement, the band sound completely natural, and it likely signals that they have far outgrown their childish beginnings.

‘The Endless Disconnect’ has a post-punk dissonance that offers something different to the album, as does the instrumental ‘Ploratio Morbus’. The over the top, radio-friendly (and completely beautiful) album closer ‘Exit Wounds (Acceptance)’ is the album’s highlight by far and will firmly establish the band as a force to be reckoned with in 2012.

I can understand why some longtime fans may feel let down by this album. In a sick way, that is one of the things I love most about this album. Although I can neither confirm nor deny the reality of this idea, it’s easy to picture Spineshank getting back together and sitting in a studio saying “If we only get to make one more album, what should it sound like? What’s everything we ever wanted to do but felt too boxed in to do?” Anger Denial Acceptance does whatever the hell it wants…repeatedly. It’s got “sellout” anthems, the heaviest songs the band have ever recorded and an instrumental. Through it all, the album remains a cohesive journey that this reviewer will be taking many times over the next few years.

Mark Fisher

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