The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Hell Or High Water EP

Written by: PP on 23/09/2010 21:30:23

For the longest time it seemed like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus had lost relevance completely thanks to a less-than-mediocre sophomore album "Lonely Road". I don't know where to begin talking about what went wrong with that record, but lets just assume EMI-owned Virgin Records had their say about the direction that the band should take followed their extremely successful debut album "Don't You Fake It". Live, they seemed tired and unmotivated, visibly lacking inspiration or desire to be playing the songs that sounded dated even before they were officially released, and their new EP "Hell Or High Water" is, in my opinion, a suggestion why. Long time manager Steve Tramposch was fired, and the relationship with Virgin ended, and voilà, gone are all signs of predictable mainstream rock and boring ballads.

Instead, the band makes a 180 degree turn, rewinding four years of their sound evolution on their first self-released EP since the early days, while adding in a few new exciting elements to re-awaken the nearly a million people who bought a copy of their debut world-wide. It's as big of a return to their roots as any, bringing back a rougher post-hardcore base to the guitars and lots of screaming to give the songs an extremely effective dosage of energy and chaos - just what the band needed. The punk undertones are back with a blast, too, with most guitars drawing clear inspiration from Rise Against whilst the vocals keep the sound comfortably on the emo/post-hardcore side of things. Especially "Choke" features similar melodic tapping and rough edges to the lead riff as the punk heavyweights.

But most importantly, the heart-wrenching angst is back in full, with singer Ronnie Winter once again singing with his voice fully charged from passionate emotion and grief. When combined with screaming, or even gang shouts (the new element), the resulting vocal dynamic is nothing short of fantastic, just the sort of stuff that made many people fall in love with this band in the first place. This is particularly true for the title track of the album, which combines intense screaming, gang shouts and harmonic cleans together into a track that carries potentially as much single value as "Face Down" from their debut album.

This newfound desire to write angsty-but-bright, sad-but-optimistic melodies tuned to post-hardcore and emo levels translates into much, much better songs. Even the ballads are better: "On My Own" has touching melodies and yet it's immensely catchy, unlike the garbage found on "Lonely Road". So it's definitely a step in the right direction, and a superb taster for people to get back on the boat and be excited about their upcoming third full length scheduled for 2011. It may not be as good as "Don't You Fake It", but that album is a genre-classic so it's unlikely they'll ever top it, so that's okay.

Download: Hell Or High Water, Choke, Casting The First Stone
For the fans of: A Heartwell Ending, Ice Nine Kills, Small Leaks Sink Ships, Young Guns, LoveHateHero,
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.08.2010

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