Growing up, years before becoming the bitter, callous metal aficionado I am today, my primary music choices came from the rock heard on local radio. Luckily, I no longer rely on the airwaves to bring me new music, especially since most radio rock is regurgitated drivel unfit for infants. Unfortunately though, many groups are no longer around, save for CHEVELLE and FINGER ELEVEN. The latter recently released their first disc in five years, titled Five Crooked Lines. The album is distributed through The Bicycle Music Company/Concord.
Like I said, I was a huge fan of these guys in my former years. Their secondary and tertiary efforts spent a great deal of time in my CD player. Their oddly placed melodies and left of center riffs really helped the group to stand out from the pack. So when I heard about their return, I felt I owed it to myself to give it a few spins. What I found was a group that greatly altered their sound over the years, parting ways with the hard rock notion of distortion-saturated guitars, and the like. Instead, the listener finds an easily accessible collection of pop numbers, with a slight hint of indie rock. Think college radio, and you’ll be pretty close.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; a dude who normally reviews Progressive and Death Metal bands couldn’t possibly find anything good on a disc with such a description. Hell, on any other day, I’d be inclined to agree. But that wasn’t the case here. I genuinely enjoyed quite a few tracks, starting with “Gods of Speed”, an up-tempo number that shows the closest feel to the group’s prior sound. “Criminal” presents the listener with a taste of what’s to come, especially with it’s similarities to the lead single “Wolves and Doors”. The most aggressive track found among the mix is “Save Your Breath”, starkly contrasting the ballad-esque feel of “Come On, Oblivion”. I also enjoyed the title track and “Lost for Words”, which slightly reminded me of a creepy mix between CKY and old SILVERCHAIR.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but I have to give FINGER ELEVEN credit for this one. I wasn’t sure what to think after their years away from my stereo, but there were parts of this album that spoke to me. However, there were equal parts that weren’t of any interest, or worse. I suggest steering clear of “Sensory Eraser” and “Blackout Song”. Or don’t. Maybe it was just my taste. I also don’t like chocolate. So make the decision for yourself. And in order to do that, I suggest grabbing a copy of Five Crooked Lines today.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Gods of Speed” through “Come On, Oblivion”, “Five Crooked Lines”, “Lost for Words”