Don’t expect anything groundbreaking on Dead Language, but who cares? This is a damn fine punk rock album.
After starting a band when they were in their mid-teens and playing together for a decade or so, you could forgive The Flatliners for wanting to deviate from their recognised sound. They did it once before, leaving their ska roots behind a couple of albums back. Who could blame them for writing a pop tune or maybe adding some keys to the mix? On their latest LP Dead Language, the Toronto four-piece does nothing of the sort – and thank fuck for that.
With non-stop touring over the last few years for their previous album Cavalcade, there was no time to hole themselves up in a remote cabin and give themselves to the songwriting process. This album was written on the road and tested on the stage, and it shows in the recording. The guitars are raw, the production is minimal, and singer Chris Cresswell’s voice is at its larynx-shredding best.
Following the path trodden on Cavalcade, the band has taken their foot off the accelerator a little compared to their past work. The red-lining punk cuts are still there with the stand-out being opener ‘Resuscitation Of The Year’, but it’s the mid-tempo songs that showcase a maturing song craft. ‘Tail Feathers’ and ‘Birds Of England’ venture into earthy, blue-collar territory; ‘Hounds’ wouldn’t sound out of place in an arena rock show; while ‘Dead Hands’ swings like a Misfits record and has a sing-along chorus that will be a live staple for years to come.
BY RICK WARNER
Dead Language is out now through New Damage Records/Cooking Vinyl