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American Anymen – Cities Changing Names

American Anymen
Cities Changing Names
by Oli Gonzalez at 13 June 2022, 6:00 AM

Sometimes bands are formed after months or even years of careful and meticulous planning. On other occasions, all the elements and pieces of the puzzle are right there, and just need assembling. The latter would apply to AMERICAN ANYMEN. Legend has it that front man Brett was working on a video project in the late 90s, and collaborated with friends to create a musical score to it. Later this one-off audio track would spawn a 20 year+ career for the band, as a collaboration of musicians in the New York anti-folk scene. What’s anti-folk you may ask? I was curious to find out as I had never heard the term. The band describe themselves as industrial metal with a punk feel. Maybe we’ll see some experimental elements, interesting synth tracks and an overall raw and primitive edge. Let’s go!

 The album in all fairness gets off to a solid start with “My Vacation”. This is very energetic indeed, and I can see the subtle use of synths that compliments the raw energy from the instruments. I can just picture this in a live setting; I’m sure it would send the audience into a frenzy! The second song, “Fentanyl Death Kiss” has a much stronger groove feel, a strong throwback to the early 90s grunge scene. The song is undoubtedly dominated by an infectious and hypnotic bass line, one which I honestly thought would become stale and repetitive after several minutes, but instead, this has been firmly planted into my subconscious and will be there for the rest of the day now. Mission accomplished. The pace picks up again for “Cities Changing Names”, a song I found to be very much inspired by STATIC-X. The industrial feel is very strong, but it’s the rather interesting and non-conventional vocal patterns that stand out to me. Especially with the subtle use of reverb and echo effects. I do wonder how these would be incorporated in a live setting, but it certainly makes for an entertaining listen. I haven’t mentioned the drummer yet, but James can certainly throw down on the drums. That’s evident towards the end of this song, with his blast beat skills on display.

“Expert of Nothing” I found interesting. To be truthful, I wasn’t really enjoying it at first. It wasn’t really as in your face as the first tracks. However, this is definitely a slow burner. Be patient with it and you’ll find yourself singing along to the chorus, humming along to the simple yet brutally effective guitar riffs and bopping your head along to the beat, just like I was! The dominant low end rumble, which had been a mainstay in the opening few tracks had taken a back step in “Contact Sheets”. That’s great though, you CAN have too much of a good thing. This has more of an uplifting post-punk feel, which has added something different to the album, demonstrating the band’s versatility in composition,. Again, this band knows how to plant ear worms that root themselves into your subconscious! Fans of KYUSS, anybody? If so, I implore you check out “Escalator”. The stoner, psychedelic vibe in this song is strong. This is achieved with the fuzz laden guitar tones, and whereas the riffs previously had a strong groove and rhythmic component, this song has a much more relaxed vibe to it, allowing you to take a breather and just appreciate the music.

“KTKWTKS” , what does that stand for, you may ask? Kill The Killer With The Kill Stick, clearly. Everybody knows that! Well, that’s what drew me into this song, the return of those delightful low end industrial hooks and grooves made me stay! “Die I Live” is another I would certainly recommend for fans of KYUSS and others who love those thick fuzz heavy grooves and stoner vibes.
Sadly, I did find it harder to sustain my attention for “Destroy Interesting”. In isolation, it’s a great song. But in the context of the album, after 40 minutes of similar sounding music, it just doesn’t have that same initial vibe and draw that the first few songs did. Which is a shame. Though when track 10 “The Status Quo is a Paper Tiger” I was excited. The intro features a delicious blast beat and guitar tones and tremolo picking that give it a black metal flavour, almost like industrial black metal. I thought this was it, something very different! Sadly though, it returned to the same formula of subtle synths, strong industrial tones and grooves that whilst they were interesting at first, are starting to become stale at this point. In isolation, “Countercultures of the World” is a solid song, but sadly I don’t think there’s anything too different from what’s already been done.

Am I being too harsh? Possibly. That’s not to say that the last few songs are bad. I just think the band should have left this as an 7 or 8 track album, especially with today’s Spotify generation who sadly have much shorter attention span, which being a millennial I’m part of. None the less, this has certainly one of the more interesting albums I’ve reviewed. I don’t see many industrial metal albums, which is a shame as I feel that it’s one where there’s a huge scope for creativity with synth tracks and other elements. AMERICAN ANYMEN have done the genre and themselves justice here.

Songwriting:7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability:  8
Production:  8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. My Vacation
2. Fentanyl Death Kiss
3. Cities Changing Names
4. Expert of Nothing
5. Contact Sheets
6. Escalator
7. KTKWTKS
8. Die, I Live
9. Destroy Interesting
10. The Status Quo is a Paper Tiger
11. Countercultures of the World
Lineup:
Brett Sullivan - Vocals, Guitars, Violin
Scott Fragala - Bass
James Knoerl – Drums
Record Label: Eclipse Records
     


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