The Flatliners - Destroy To Create
Release Date: July 19th, 2005
Record Label: Stomp Records
The declaration that an artist's downtime is one of the the most difficult challenges any listener is forced to endure has anything but overemphasis placed upon it. While a few insufficient years may seem to pass with the snap of the fingers in one's active, short-winded lifestyle, make no mistake that those very years surely feel like eternity in the mind's of an artist's devoted supporters. In the case of Toronto, Ontario's self-proclaimed ska-punk quartet, The Flatliners, the act's absence would appear rather compact, and far from a dog's age. However, in all reality, nearly two years with little to no newfangled material to respectively acknowledge, the group's supporters were undoubtedly on the edge of their seats, and it took no strain of one's ears to hear the anxious cries of those who had encircled the Canadian ensemble.
As any accomplished graduate could effortlessly explain, a properly-constructed equation comes hand-in-hand with a demonstrative solution, regardless of it's availability or like-minded accessibility. The Flatliners, with freshly-bound diplomas to their names, and an enxtensive stint of travelling under their belts, answered the expectant calls of loyal enthusiasts with Destroy To Create, an aptly-titled collection of fourteen, contemporary battle-cry's to call their own. While truthfully many were apprehensive as to the impression the group's debut, full-length release would formulate, listeners needs were satisfied, and their expectations were exceeded. The quartet, who play a rapid consummation of gritty punk-rock laced with danceable ska undertones, showcase an uncanny knack for well-rounded songwriting, memorable, politcally-charged lyrics, and raw, infectious melodies. While truthfully we have seen each of these qualities more than enough to last us a lifetime, few characters have obtained such unrivalled adeptness this early in one's career, so for that may The Flatliners count themselves as blessed.
The record opens with a brief, politically-inspired greeting before properly disclosing itself with "Fred's Got Slacks", a breackneck, ska-tinged, punk rock anthem. While many may declare the album's lead offering as one of The Flatliners' most impressive compositions, alike any other preference, that is merely a matter of opinion. However, listeners may be certain that the release wastes next to no time in casting frontman Chris Cresswell, who doubles as the group's lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, into the limelight. Cresswell's stamina is supremely awe-inspiring, as he spits out one barely decipherable, lengthy lyric after another, all the while maintaining his unique, raw tone. On "Public Service Announcement", a breathless, punk-rock exertion, Cresswell leads the quartet through an abrasive series of twists and turns, and while the track applies a rather uninspired, typical recipe to it's backbone, it's assuredly no less of a gem than the aforementioned fan-favourite. On "Bad News", the release's fifth offering, guitarists Scott Brigham and Cresswell join forces to lace a basic, buoyant ska foundation with a tasty arrangement of guitar riffs. The track itself pairs punk-rock and ska flawlessly, a combination which will undoubtedly satisfy fans of the now-defunct Michigan four-piece, The Suicide Machines, among others. On "Scumpunch!", the eighth hymn in line, a hasty voice clip sails listeners into a ferocious, rhythm-driven ska-punk amalgamation, on which bassist Jon Darbey and drummer Paul Ramirez brandish demonstrate their exceptional agility, endurance, and indefatigability.
While a new crowd will have surely concocted a fixed opinion of the band's approach by this point, the remaining half of Destory To Create possesses nearly as many front-runners as it's initial recipes, and for that may audiences find themselves thankful. On "Macoretta Boozer", the record's tenth offering, although The Flatliners do little to alter their conventional method, the group propounds one of their most memorable choruses to date, as Cresswell shouts "he's passed out, he hit the floor" in his usual, respective, chaotic manner. On "Broken Bones", the album's eleventh stroke, the act submits what is unquestionably the most radio-friendly blueprint Destroy To Create has to offer, and while it's slightly dissimilar from the panic-stricken, disorderly approach listeners have assumably grown accustomed to, the scarcely less-chaotic procedure suits the quartet just as favourably. On "Quality Television", the Toronto natives conjoin heartening, danceable ska rhythms and fist-pumping, chant-worthy punk-rock sequences, before cruising into "Do or Die", the album's closing composition, with ease.
When all it boils down, the curtains close one last time, and the audience files out, one may find themselves at a loss for words, or otherwise utterly disgusted. To be less abrupt, The Flatliners' approach to music is simple, and the formation of an opinion is even less incomplex. While Destroy To Create certainly quenched devotees' thirst for another round with the Ontario-born foursome, one would be foolish to expect anything more. It's simultaneously evident that The Flatliners grip tightly to a specifc code, and while a step beyond the boundaries here and there surely wouldn't detract from the band's compelling, honest ritual, you will find that you either love or hate what these four musicians have made available. As a critic, I'm afraid there is no middle ground. Destroy To Create, while dazzling in it's own right, inevitably is not for the masses, but I urge and each every one of you to formulate your own personal opinion.