Strung Out – Black Out The Sky (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 28:43 minutes | 355 MB | Genre: Alternative Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Fat Wreck Chords
On their third EP, 2018’s Black Out the Sky, punk stalwarts Strung Out veered down a surprisingly mature path to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Forgoing the aggressive punk blasts and metallic riffs that were parts of their sound for decades, the band decided to unplug, presenting six new acoustic songs alongside a pair of reworked early-era cuts. Produced by Kyle Black, Black Out retains the catchiness and melody of the band’s core spirit, albeit with much less bite. Without that full assault, the songs stand tall on their own, with a rawness and powerful purity that occasionally drifts into bleeding emo territory. The new songs vary in their execution, from the sweet ditty “Town of Corazon” to the bouncy jaunt “Duke of Sorrow,” and from the urgency of “The Architect” to the sunshiny sweep of “Presidio.” The heaviest offering on Black Out is “Requiem,” which descends into a flurry of screams and drums at its close. Longtime fans will notice the acoustic versions of deep cuts “Unkoil” (from 2002’s An American Paradox) and “Matchbook” (from 1998’s Twisted by Design), two bites of nostalgia given new life. While a short play, the eight tracks on Black Out the Sky are satisfyingly fresh, a quick nod to Strung Out’s past and enticing evidence of future possibilities.
Mixing up punk speed, metal guitar power, and a dash of electronics for seasoning, Southern California rockers Strung Out were formed in 1989, with a lineup featuring vocalist Jason Cruz, guitarists Jake Kiley and Rob Ramos, bassist Jim Cherry, and drummer Adam Austin. By the time the band released their first 7″, Austin had been replaced by Jordan Burns, formerly of Ten Foot Pole. The quintet signed with NOFX bassist Fat Mike’s Fat Wreck Chords label in 1993 and issued a debut album, Another Day in Paradise, the following year. The band took an artistic leap forward with the 1996 follow-up, Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, an album whose rapid-fire playing began to build their following among fans of new-school punk-pop. In 1998 Strung Out issued the Crossroads & Illusions EP and the full-length Twisted by Design, the latter a more progressive work that found the group beginning to mix elements of technique-oriented heavy metal into its instrumental attack; in addition, Fat Wreck Chords issued a set of early Strung Out material titled The Skinny Years: Before We Got Fat.
Cherry left the band in 1999, going on to play with Zero Down and Pulley, and was replaced by Chris Aiken on bass. The band returned in 2000 with the EP The Element of Sonic Defiance and followed two years later with An American Paradox, the band’s first album to chart on Billboard (hitting number 11 on the Independent Albums chart). Their summer 2003 live album featured 21 tracks and comic book artwork done by Cruz himself. Strung Out’s fifth full-length, Exile in Oblivion, was produced by Matt Hyde (Slayer) and issued in November 2004; it contained the song “Swan Dive,” which was a tribute to former bassist Jim Cherry, who had sadly passed away in July 2002 from a lifelong heart condition. In June of 2007 the band’s next effort, Blackhawks Over Los Angeles, came out. Strung Out celebrated their 20th anniversary with the release of 2009’s Agents of the Underground, but after touring behind the record the band took a break, and it wasn’t until 2015 that they returned with a new long-player, Transmission.Alpha.Delta. ~ Steve Huey
01. The Architect
02. Black Out the Sky
03. Town of Corazon
06. Duke of Sorrow