Album Review :
Take It Back! - Atrocities

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Artist: Take It Back!
Album: Atrocities
Label: Facedown Records
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. The Beginning. Nothing.
  2. New Empire
  3. Lost Generation
  4. Hollow Eyes
  5. A Reason to Scream
  6. What We’re Fighting For
  7. Minneapolis
  8. The Skies Are Empty
  9. The Prodigal Soldier
  10. The End of Apathy

Take It Back! has returned to release their follow-up to Can’t Fight Robots. Atrocities stays in line with their punk/hardcore sound, albeit with a few big changes to the lineup. Their old lead vocalist (Zack) has left and now Nick has taken over those duties. A vocalist change is often very difficult for a band to survive through but it certainly is possible (As Cities Burn come to mind). They also picked up a new guitarist, Cody, and have recently gotten a new bass player, Devin. It’s also worth noting a few of these songs appeared in a slightly different form on their 2009 EP, Rumors of Revolt, so you can get an idea of where they are going.

The guitars and drumming are as fast-paced as you’d expect in this genre of music but they don’t change often. There’s nothing really memorable that come from either here and at times it seems like both instruments are being played as fast and as hard as possible with no regard to melody. I understand that sort of thing could be used as a style of music, but a whole album’s worth of chugging is bland and forgettable. The best guitar work comes from the album closer, ‘The End of Apathy’, in which they serve the purpose of creating an ominous sound along with the drums. It’s no coincidence that it’s also my favorite track.

As far as the vocals go, I can’t say I enjoyed them much at all. Nick has a unique style of shouting but since it’s used in every song about 90% of the time I got sick of it real quick. Variety in vocals is very important and unfortunately there’s not much of that here. The occasional use of gang vocals, like in ‘Lost Generation’, are a welcome relief but even those aren’t used often enough. The clean vocal singing in ‘Hollow Eyes’ is also surprisingly strong but again, not used much elsewhere in ‘Atrocities’. With more balance between all of those styles the songs could have been easier to differentiate and enjoy.

The lyrics are truly the bright spot of the album. A lot of themes seem to repeat and even some phrases (broken souls, broken songs, empty hands, etc.), all centering around the state of society and the world. One in particular really caught my attention in its simple brutal honesty on questions we all have and likely voiced at some point or another. It comes from ‘The Skies Are Empty’ and he says:

They say we’re blind
would a god of love
leave a man under a bridge (alone)
or cause a family
to loose a loved one (to a war)
while the corrupt stay home
and profit (from death)
while they’re praying in pews to “bring our boys home”

Tough questions to ask but at the end of the song they acknowledge that we are not alone and sometime’s it’s just a hard pill to swallow. Other songs have a cynical spin on how so-called ‘Christians’ act in the church and how judgemental people are about others. These aren’t subjects that are brought up lightly and it takes some courage to sing this sort of commentary about the church. I can certainly appreciate someone that will say how they feel and not sugarcoat serious issues that hurt other people.

Overall: Atrocities isn’t without its moments here and there but the focus on the subpar vocals, that may or may not grate on your nerves, and the monotonous song structure makes this hard to enjoy all the way through. If you’re a fan of this brand of hardcore music you’ll find more to love than others will. Just don’t go into this expecting a lot of melody and memorable guitar riffs. All things considered, this is really a debut album by a new lineup that have yet to form a strong chemistry and hit their stride.

Gems of this album are: ‘Hollow Eyes’, ‘The End of Apathy’

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