Whether you’re listening to hardcore, indie-rock or pop, a bad vocalist can ruin a band. Now, I’ve heard a lot of dudes scream in hardcore bands. Some of them are good, others not so much. In all honesty, with subpar lyricism in tow, the guy doing vocals for Outbreak almost made this record unlistenable. What results is an album with such promise on the instrumental side dragged down by vocals, making this another instance where sometimes the vocal approach of a band can in fact kill a record. Outbreak sure has their finer points, but you’ll have to have a decent amount of will and tolerance to enjoy them.
With many of the tracks clocking in under a minute and none of them passing the three-minute mark, this record is chopped up into 15 tracks of buzzing hardcore with legit fretwork and frantic drumming. However, with borderline whiny vocals as irritating as these, it will be difficult to really enjoy this album while the vocals are a part of it. Still, the gritty melodies and blasting drums of tracks like “Human Target” and “Analyze/Criticize” make for some intense cuts worthy of some mosh-pit mayhem. Even the half-minute long “Multiple Personality Disorder” packs a massive wallop to your eardrums. If the sonic assault didn’t contain such compelling arrangements, this record would be even worse. However, blistering drums and howling guitars prevail (see “Concealed” for a quick, tasty guitar solo) and keep this album somewhat afloat.
It is a difficult pill to swallow when one aspect of a disc makes it hard to fully enjoy the work a band has put into penning and recording the songs said record contains. Hardcore and punk aficionados might be more willing to swallow vocalist Ryan O’Connor’s approach to fronting the band, but otherwise you might just want to save yourself the trouble of disappointing yourself with the promise of a good record. [By: Jason Gardner]
Release Date: November 10, 2009