Strung Out

Prototypes & Painkillers

Written by: PP on 11/04/2009 15:00:32

While we're waiting for the eighth Strung Out studio album to land in stores later this year, the metallic punk rock band is treating us to a little teaser in the form of a 25-track compilation consisting of outtakes, demos and other tracks, "Prototypes & Painkillers". It's the second rarities effort from the band, but then again it's been 11 years since the last one, "The Skinny Years...Before We Got Fat". The package also contains a total of seven songs that haven't been released in any format before, so there's also value for money to be grabbed in this sucker, other than the obvious lets-get-hyped-for-studio-album effect that the compilation will surely have. The compilation covers virtually every era of the Strung Out sound through its 67 minute playtime. There are a few pop punk-ish songs that recall the "Teenage Suburban Wasteland Blues" album from 1996, which flow naturally alongside the metallic hooks of songs similar to 2004's "Exile In Oblivion". That's always been my favorite quality about Strung Out, their ability to seamlessly play two entirely different sounds and still sound indistinguishably like Strung Out.

Overall though, the 25 tracks are a bit of a mixed bag of goodies and so-so tracks. There's a handful of tracks like "Sinner & Coward?" that have super dodgy production with terrible mixing, consequently resulting in the sound breaking and cutting in places. It's extremely difficult to get anything out of these type of tracks and I don't really see why they've been put on the compilation without proper mixing and mastering. But at the same time, tracks like "Don't Look Back", "Dig", "Lost Motel" and many others bring forth the absolute best in Strung Out, be it the screeching guitar sound or the prolonged clean croons that make the choruses so goddamn catchy. There are also some fairly interesting stabs at differentiation, such as "Bark At The Moon", which has a riff that's been inspired by the Iron Maiden playbook by the sounds of it. At the same time, "Betrayal" is too hardcore punk for a band like Strung Out. There are just too many other bands who do that type of sound in a much more convincing manner.

Luckily, the compilation has a larger majority of great tracks than dodgy ones, and since there are 25 tracks in total, pressing the skip button six or seven times doesn't really hurt the flow of the album. Other than that, "Prototypes & Painkillers" is absolutely something for a Strung Out fan, but perhaps not a place to start for someone not familiar with the band in the first place. It has been compiled with the fan's needs and wants in mind unlike so many other compilation/b-side releases which are issued only with the wallets of fans in mind. That's enough to earn the record a solid


Download: Lost Motel, Dig, Don't Look Back
For the fans of: Strung Out, Good Riddance, Pulley
Listen: Myspace

Release date 31.03.2009
Fat Wreck Chords

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