Strung Out – Black Out The Sky LP/ CD (Fat Wreck)

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Well at first I got very excited to read there was a new Strung Out record about to hit the streets. Then I read on and learnt this was to be an acoustic affair and I decided to put my enthusiasm on hold until I gave this a spin. After all one of the trademarks of the Strung Out sound is their ability to bang out some top quality metallic hardcore, putting sweet vocals over the top that brings things back into the realm of anthemic punk rock. So without those amps cranked up to eleven how would this work? Well for me vocalist Jason Cruz is what lifts the band from the crowd as he has a soulful voice that carries melody without compromising power, and that is the case whether the band are blasting on all cylinders or as on here, strumming the strings a little more gently. The quieter songs allow the fragility of Jason’s delivery to shine through, each syllable of every song is drenched in feeling and that alone makes this record worthwhile. Musically this sounds exactly what it says on the tin – Strung Out, unplugged. There is still some terrific guitar work, and a variety of tunes ranging from country style rockers to more straightforward pop tunes that bring to mind AFI so all in all this really is a decent Strung Out record, albeit with a slight twist. Tom Chapman

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