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Thursday, July 03, 2008

CD Review: Take it Back! - Can't Fight Robots

Take it Back! - Can't Fight Robots
2008 Facedown Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



I hate to prelude a review of any contemporary hardcore album like this, but more than a fair amount of newcomers have done little to nothing to move the sound forward, instead taking the audile and executory principles of Agnostic Front, Youth of Today, Biohazard, Throwdown and Carnivore like a standby recipe and offering very few external seasonings to differentiate their punk crew stew from the countless others barking for attention in the underground.

In case you're unfamiliar with them, Take it Back! is an Arkansas Christian-based hardcore unit that writes largely upbeat songs where the message is spirituality overcoming hard times and jaded attitudes. While most hardcore bands today profess unity and positivity in their roughneck, customarily bulldog-woofed street epithets, there's frequently an air of artificiality to them, particularly with the gang-mindedness behind the cracked salvation gospels preached within.

On the humorously titled Can't Fight Robots, Take it Back! makes no pretentions to propose communal bonding through toughness and rigid discipline that rivals the most intense of the old straight edgers back in the day. Instead, Take it Back! offers their viewpoints of self-reflection and remedies of internal harmony on Can't Fight Robots, largely with the same modes of interpretation yielded from a lot of merged hardcore and emo bands stamping around the scene today. Still, there's a bit of honesty to songs like "Lights in This Town," "Times Have Changed" and "The Truth" that overrides the occasional breakdown sequence, the gang shouting or the traditionally brewed anticipatory bars of mayhem-hinting before running like hell (bad pun, sorry) in speedy bursts typifying a generous portion of Take it Back's! peers.

Aside from their antidotes of constructive introspection, Take it Back! is all about fusing melodic overtures into their archetypes so that Can't Fight Robots moves along at a largely brisk pace, sounding like Bane with even more youthful exuberance and a fresh dash of new theories heaped atop the obligatory prototypes engineering their music. Though the album tends to bottleneck with less assiduity towards the end despite keeping a hefty pace, at-large Can't Fight Robots is a very inspired effort and one that genuinely tries to reach beyond the norm.

Side kudos to Take it Back! for their amusing take on Queen's contrastingly haunted News of the World album cover. Considering the underlying tabs of seriousness scattered throughout Can't Fight Robots, the offsetting humor of the album's artwork allows the listener to get settled in comfortably before Take it Back! sets their album ablaze with mostly fast-paced litanies of spiritual therapy, adding a few new corners and crevices to the existing molds they sculpt with.

Rating: ***1/2

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