May 25, 2006

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Phoenix Mourning, When Excuses Become Antiques
Metal Blade Records, 2006

By the album title you might correctly guess that Taking Back Sunday et. al. are hard at work influencing this fivesome, and indeed it’s the latest thrash-metal/emo crossover record to be added to the unmanageable pile growing like a radioactive Chia Pet in this office. There are slightly unconventional aspects to the band, however, that point to historical awareness (the songs are structured with a melodically sound crescendo in mind a la Clinic as opposed to buckets of crazed notes dumped on the listener all at once and throughout), actual songwriting ability (not for nothing, since all this faddishness is too successful at the corporate level to be going away anytime soon, but the coda of "Across Twenty-Six Winters" is enormously pretty) and a proclivity for combining fat, resonant chords with legitimately unique guitar sounds. “Glasskiss" owns the most innovative and unexpected moments, a foundation of elaborate and tragic strings leading to a summery but unglued left turn that pits singer Jeremiah Ruff's demon-squalling against a wall of Backstreet Boys pathos. B+

— E.W.S.


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