Rx Bandits - ...And The Battle Begun
Release Date: October 10th, 2006
Record Label: Mash Down Babylon Records
I've always been recognized as one that's held tight to a firm belief that no matter how much distaste one may hold for a proficient ensemble of musicians, it's unfeasible to discredit those very performers, and nearly twice the challenge to degrade them. While I personally may not hold the title of the Rx Bandits' most dedicated, loyal cosumer, the very thought of turning a blind eye to their contemporary work is downright absurd. In 2003, listeners observed what is notably one of the most extraordinary musical revelations the world has ever laid eyes upon, as the band migrated further from their original, third-wave ska approach on their fourth, full-length effort, The Resignation. While few found themselves displeased with the band's unpredictable sound alterations, many were wide-eyed and doubtlessly overjoyed with the group's risky, yet impeccable metamorphosis.
Three years later, with their long-awaited, fifth full-length release, ...And the Battle Begun, the Seal Beach quintet once again dip their feet into an expansive array of diverse musical techniques, chaotic instrumentation, and ravishing musicianship, all the while roaming considerably further than one might possibly predict. While it's true that the last remaining traces of the band's earliest work have more or less dissapeared, it's effortful to muster enough sadness to label oneself as substantially upset. On ...And the Battle Begun, we glimpse the cast, led by lead vocalist and guitarist Matthew Embree, incorporate intricate progressive rock elements into their already distinctive fusion of rock, punk, and ska music, in turn creating what is arguably the act's most alluring work to date.
The release discloses itself in a rather calm manner with an untitled offering on which Embree comfortably shares his opening thoughts ("It's over. I must have seen her face before. I fell in love when I was born") before surging into the release's title track,"...And the Battle Begun." On the lead offering, the Rx Bandits assure their faithful audience that their creative fountain has all but dried up, as Embree and his troops sail effortlessly through a series of complex chord progressions and uncommon time signatures, both of which are qualities the many-sided quinted perpetually embrace. On "Only For The Night", the album's fourth track, trombonist Chris Sheets and now-departed saxophonist Steve Borth make their inhabitance crystal-clear with a series of simple, yet fancy arrangements, and while truthfully their combined presence is found under the spotlight rather infrequently, the pair complement the group's, which consists of the aforementioned Embree, as well as guitarist Steve Choi, bassist Joseph Troy, and drummer Christopher Tsagakis, rumpled approach fantastically. On "1980", the record's halfway point, the Rx Bandits present a contagious blend of punk-rock and progressive rock, and one which features the unique vocal style of Embree amidst an adventitious aggregation of peerless musical notation and entangled patterns.
The second half of ...And the Battle Begun catapults itself into full gear with the energetic rock anthem, "One Million Miles an Hour, Fast Asleep", on which Embree uses his guitar to showcase his unadulterated ability to concoct powerful compositions without rehashing tried and tested formulas. On "Apparation", the flavourful, reggae jam, the Rx Bandits allow listeners to glimpse one of the rare footprints reminiscent of the group's initial form, though the offering is certainly laced with their present trademarks as to appease both sides of their audience. On "Tainted Wheat", the album's tenth exertion, the band bounds through an extensive list of various measures and tempos, each of which highlight the group's phenomenal, rampageous musicianship and instrumentation. The eleventh track found on ...And the Battle Begun, "To Our Unborn Daughters", once again advertises the act's knack for experimentation and creativity, as the track exhibits all the definitive characteristics of a "jam" band. Thankfully, despite the fact that many critics and listeners alike have labelled the act as a free-roaming outfit without any habit for standard formation, the Bandits manage to retain a considerable amount of apparent tendency for rhythmic blueprints. On "Crushing Destroyer", the release's closing curtain, the group produces what is undoubtedly the record's most media-friendly recipe, owing much to the track's dominant, punk-inspired chorus, on which Embree shouts "it's contagious, we can't slow down" over a searing, austere arrangement.
With nearly a decade full of trials, tribulations, and experience under their belts, it's no exaggeration to assume that this battle will continue to rage on and on, perhaps long after these five musicians are dead and gone. ...And the Battle Begun is without a doubt one of the most compelling and inquistive releases of the year, and one with a response that will assuredly be less than comatose. While the Rx Bandits' rubric may not earn the group the mainstream attention and recognition that so many desperately desire, which is primarily due to their less than radio-friendly approach and unusual craftsmanship, the group have certainly acquired their fair share of unconventional praise, and prestige that's bound to to remain intact with each shot fired. The battle has begun. Which side are you on?
Wow, I'm surprised it was only given a 79%.
No offense at all Brandon, it just seems by your review that you really liked the album.
Mayeb I'm just a bit biased
I did my best to present no bias whatsoever in my review, and I mentioned that while I am by no means a huge fan of the Rx Bandits in their current form, it's too hard to not give credit to them as credit is certainly due.
Also, by no means is a 79% a low score. That's only 21% away from from being absolutely perfect, so take it for what it's worth.
79%? 7.5 Vox? I never got into Rx before this but i absolutely love this album. I've had it for a few months and i think its my fave cd of the year and quickly become a classic for me that has made me a loyal RX Bandits fan now. Im just surprised it didnt get a higher rating