The Flatliners

Division Of Spoils

Written by: PP on 12/10/2015 22:57:08

From rags to riches through a hard work ethic and a subtle, yet constant evolution of sound. That's a fairly accurate description of The Flatliners' slow but steady rise to punk rock hall of fame during the last decade. What started as straight up Leftöver Crack style skacore on "Destroy To Create" has slowly evolved into an anthemic, yet tight and roughened punk rock expression bursting with melody-explosions on landmark release "Dead Language" two years ago. This album placed The Flatliners on the map once and for good not just by being their best album to date, but more importantly, by being their fourth solid album in a row. Today, The Flatliners have earned an oft-referenced spot in the hearts and minds of punk rockers on both sides of the pond, frequently used as one of the prime examples that melodic punk is alive and strong even in 2015.

During the past decade, the band have been awfully productive. Each album has spawned numerous b-sides that were just too good to throw away, and subsequently, here we stand with a mammoth 23-track b-sides and rarities compilation "Division Of Spoils". 16 original tracks, five covers, and two super rare bonus tracks make it collector's edition most fans don't want to miss. Especially because it resembles Alkaline Trio b-sides output by comparing positively to most of their discography, arguably even topping the first two albums in terms of quality of song. "Lifers", for instance, could've easily been on "Dead Language" and is the best track on the compilation. But the melodically ringing "This Guy Reads From A Card" is equally awesome, and the fast-paced aggressive piece "This Song Is Like Thunder And Lightning In A Wide Open Field" is a fun listen precisely because it has such an upbeat tone. Common to all is vocalist Chris Cresswell's coarse vocal style, which is still awash with passion and sense for a great melody, one of the primary reasons for their success throughout.

Essentially, "Division Of Spoils" takes you through the diverse soundscapes that The Flatliners have toyed with during their career. We hear a return to skacore towards the end of the record, while a track like "Sticky Bastards" falls somewhere in between the ska punk of "The Great Awake" and the more wide-open punk rock of "Cavalcade". The majority of material is clearly from "Dead Language" and "Cavalcade" sessions, however, given the slightly more expansive and guitar melody-driven sound throughout, which I'm sure no-one is complaining about. After all, the band have progressively gotten better, which is rare even in punk rock terms, given the frankly ridiculous amount of bands that have become progressive worse album after album since their debut. Still, a song like "Open Hearts And Bloody Grins" provides insight into what sort of a band The Flatliners used to be: almost screamed vocals, distinct ska guitars, and a lightning speed tempo during the chorus. And since this style works almost equally well as "Dead Language"-era material, these types of cuts might just entice newer fans to check out earlier albums in their discography.

Overall, "Division Of Spoils" offers great value for money. It explores each era in The Flatliners' back catalogue and collects together their numerous EPs and 7-inch records into one album. Best of all, it's probably better than the first two studio albums in their own right, thus continuing The Flatliners' infallible consistency of writing great songs.

8

Download: This Song Is Like Thunder And Lightning In A Wide Open Field, Lifers, This Guy Reads From A Card, Stick Bastards, Open Hearts And Bloody Grins, Hot Trouble
For the fans of: Dead To Me, Astpai, Off With Their Heads, Banner Pilot, I Am The Avalanche
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.08.2015
Fat Wreck Chords

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