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April 19, 2024

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Cole (Black Pumpkin Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Forming in 1987, while the band was still in high school, the Fiendz took matters into their own hands right from the beginning. Starting their own label, Black Pumpkin Records, they released a few 7"'s and quickly began to get local attention. Combining pop-punk with a modern rock feel, one minute you'll hear the speed and angst that is their punk side, while the next minute they'll dive into more melodic, crunchy guitar riffs that show their modern rock edge.

Then again, you'll hear both in the same song a lot of times. That is how "Listen To Me" comes across. Very melodic, with plenty of hooks, it's pop-punk core is complimented with a few modern rock cosmetics. The results can be quite deceiving. First off, the verses come across dull and lifeless. Then the chorus kicks in, the hooks get wetter, and the song soon takes on an appealing approach. From there on, the verses serve as a good warming block for the chorus.

Same thing goes for "Scene," a common punk tale of people who piss on their own scene, all the while blaming its hardships on someone else. The verses are quite ineffective and sleepers, but as soon as they slap you with a big hook right across your face, then you know the song is about to take on a new shape. And it does. As the chorus cruises through your ear canals, the mid-tempo, thick-accented guitars ripple while the hammering drums help contrast the harmonies that are passed on through the nice vocal work these guys are capable.

But they are also able to nail a complete song, offering up both appetizing verses and a juicy chorus. "I Was Lost" is carried by the thick, yet soothing, vocals that surf the edges of the song and give it a very peaceful sound while the guitars are cranking out some very heavy riffs in the background. Also jumping ahead with some lighter, bouncy hooks, the guitar is capable of providing a nice background when the vocals are not present, as well as when they are in full effect.

As the CD progresses, their sense of melody seems to get tighter and more apparent. The punk jumps in and out of the songs, but the rock attitude and appetite are always in full bloom. Even when they soften things out, like on "I Will Be Saved." Going as far as adding some very breezy, relaxing keyboard parts, the song starts out very dreamy. But as the guitars hint at an attack of rock, the band soon follows through and blasts head-first into some abrasive licks.

This seems to happen a lot through the remainder of the disc. They start out slow and then bite you on the ass with some rougher beats. Then they trick you again, calm down, and pick everything back up.

Sometimes generic sounding, and not always reaching their highest potential, the disc rides like a roller coaster. But the good thing is, you'll normally end up on the highs than on the lows. There are enough hooks and vocal harmonies to keep the pop fan happy, while there are also enough angst-filled riffs and beats to keep the rocker inside fulfilled. I'll give this disc a B-.

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