Album Review :
Unshackled - The Overcoming Years

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Band: Unshackled
Release: The Overcoming Years
Label: Thumper Punk Records
Release Date: August 2011
Reviewed By: BMer

Track Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. You Forgot Something
  3. To Those Who Know Better (Grow a Pair)
  4. Strength
  5. Grave Saint Life
  6. Land of the Dead
  7. Take Everything
  8. Jesus is Punk Rock
  9. Beware My Pleasure
  10. Born To Lose
  11. Don’t Call Me Ugly
  12. Ego
  13. Human Decay
  14. The Cards You’re Dealt
  15. Hate Moshing
  16. Kingdom Times
  17. Overcome

Unshackled is a straight-up punk rock band from El Paso, Texas. Their full-length release titled The Overcoming Years is jam-packed with 17 tracks, 40 minutes of just about every style of punk you can think of. This release is a case of quantity over quality as no single vein of punk is done particularly well, but every vein of punk is covered. It’s almost a lesson of punk, from the gutter-punk oi songs like “Grave Saint Life” to somewhat light-heart fast punk in “Jesus is Punk Rock” to simple hardcore style songs like “Strength”.

The cd booklet lists 4 out of the 5 band members as contributing to the vocals. Each member has a different style, and probably a different brand of punk that they prefer. Songs like the stomp-worship track “Beware of My Pleasure” feature almost indistinguishable vocals like Minor Threat, emotional screams and yells. The catchy “whoas” on the track “Ego” remind me sort of old Pennywise, this is one of the better tracks on the album, relevant lyrics “In this scene it doesn’t mean a thing” and a solid little guitar solo to top it off. A majority of the tracks lean towards the more serious/intense side of punk, fast and furious, while a few venture down tangents (“The Cards You’re Dealt” sounds like a NOFX song!).

Lyrically Unshackled hold nothing back, singing the name of Jesus often and not hiding behind metaphors and imagery. Some of the lyrics are valuable like on “Born to Lose” “Live your life as you choose – With that idea you’re born to lose…” while other lyrics aren’t as well thought-out “Life is tough get over it. Rape or broken home, just know that you’re not alone. Just grow a pair and live.”

The quality of the record sounds punk as well, like it was recorded on a punk DIY budget. It sounds like the band recorded the songs at a few different places, sometimes it sounds like they recorded it live altogether in a room and other times it sounds more structured. With 17 tracks there are definitely moments that probably aren’t worthy of the album, almost like instead of trying to have so many songs maybe really refining 10-12 songs and have them sound great. It is obvious that the dudes in Unshackled can play punk, if they narrow the scope some and focus on a particular style they could really make an impact.

OVERALL The Overcoming Years is a fun album, fast-paced punk rock reminiscent of the early 90’s but written for today’s crowd. Looking for something that features energy, emotion, and positive encouraging themes combined with the speed and thrash of punk rock, then pick up The Overcoming Years by Unshackled.

Buy it here on Amazon

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