Review: New Found Glory – Resurrection

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During Chicago’s Riot Fest, Chad Gilbert took the mic midway through their set to address the frenzied crowd in the brief pause between moshing and jumping. He talked briefly about how the last year has been the worst they’ve ever been through and described it as hitting their absolute “rock bottom” as a group. It’s true; it’s been a rough year to love New Found Glory.

The departure of founding member Steve Klein from the band came as a shock, but not as much as the news of the charges against him and the brewing talk by fans on forums about the rest of the band. Without the second guitar, their sound wouldn’t be as full and the shadow looming over the neigh untouchable group disappeared slowly with the enormous gap that they put between themselves and Klein.

Resurrection isn’t just another NFG album, nor just a punk sounding title. It’s a full rebirth for a band that found themselves as low as they’d ever been, and that’s coming just a few years after writing an album (Not Without A Fight) dealing with the divorces the various members had gone through. Resurrection is true to its name; it’s a full rebirth for New Found Glory with a renewed sense of urgency and anger. The guitar is heavier, the bass is louder and the lyrics are absolutely brutal.

The songs aren’t exclusively about girls like they used to be, but this is New Found Glory at their finest, delivering the best album since Sticks and Stones. The pop is lighter, the punk is harsher and, despite the similar easycore grind, each song remains memorable. It’s the type of punk that the band has been attempting to achieve ever since the Tip of the Iceberg EP and true to the legacy that allowed them to make a near perfect Ramones Cover EP (Mania). Even with the addition of more breakdowns, it sounds like authentic New Found Glory.

The most noticeable thing about Resurrection is that it’s incredibly harsher and stronger than any of their past releases, opting for punk songs with pop elements bleeding from the vocals as opposed to the instruments themselves. Gilbert, as the sole guitarist now, grinds out ferocious power chords in hypnotically catchy rhythms complete with scratches and the metallic vibrations of the strings. Ian Grushka’s bass is a rapid assault that traces the scales. The bass is much more noticeable than on past records with an authority and weight that gives a massive energy to the songs. As usual, Cyrus Bolooki’s drumming is top notch and the standard to which the rest of the pop punk genre adheres to.

Vocalist Jordan Pundik scales the range of his voice throughout the songs and delivers one incredibly chorus after the other. The most noticeable difference is that the lyrics are much more aggressive. The album starts with lead single “Selfless” in similar vein as fan favorite “Understatement” in that it’s a rapid assault anthem of self worth and the hope for strength.

With the absence of Klein as the lyricist, it almost sounds like the band took inspiration for the more personalized lyrics of new bands like The Wonder Years. It also sets the tone for the record with the daring proclamation during the bridge of, “No I’m not gonna settle anymore, no I’m not gonna hold my tongue / If you haven’t made enemies then you never stood for anything”.

Perhaps the most startling song on the record is “The Worst Person”. It is either a direct attack on Klein to clear their view on the entire situation involving him or someone in a very similar situation who did the band wrong. The song is fueled with the rage most likely responsible for the passion and fire that makes Resurrection so intriguing and powerful while maintaining a classic structure that almost sounds like it was torn from the track list of their Self-Titled.

The track also contains the most inflammatory lyrics of the band’s career as Jordan shouts, “You hid your life away, you didn’t want them to know you were hooking up with girls in Boston / You might be the worst person I’ve ever met, I’ve ever known / You keep doing all that shit you regret, end up alone”. It is single-handedly the most aggressive and personal lyrics the band has ever written.

The entire record is a challenge and an anthem of fighting back from the brink. “One More Round” rings with a raging chorus of “One more round, kick me when I’m down, but I already won when my name rolled off your tongue” against the crunch of the guitar.

Resurrection is a comeback album that no one knew was needed. Ironically enough, the worst thing to ever happen to the band may have been just the inspiration needed to knock them to the next. Their sound hadn’t evolved terribly much over the last fifteen years, but finally sounds mature and aggressively relevant. There’s no need to focus so much on love and girls when there is so much more that needs to be tackled.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and might be slightly biased because NFG was the first band he discovered fifteen years ago. But that doesn’t matter because no one reads this lil’ bit anyway. Bwa hahahahaha!

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Reflecting on: New Found Glory – Catalyst

new_found_gloryThroughout 2014, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

Catalyst was many things, chief among them being the last ‘classic’ album for New Found Glory. It was the first release by the band to toy with their sound, crafting the bridge between the signature pop punk energy of their first few albums with the softer tone of the follow up record, Coming Home.

For all of its experimentation into slower songs, it included some of their heaviest melodies coupled with a higher production value. Where the new exploration in songwriting took slight missteps in the flow of the album, what remains is one of NFG’s classic albums that still sounds just as good a decade later and influenced their songwriting all the way into the present.

The production and writing for Catalyst was able to straddle the thin border between keeping the style and sound that their fans grew to love while perfecting the polish that their songwriting needed to feel more layered than ever. Ultimately, it’s this layered sound of punk that has carried over with them for every album since. While it’s not a departure by any means from Sticks and Stones or the self-titled album, Catalyst is the first release that saw their songwriting at its greatest potential and swinging from all angles.

The grungy chord progression opening to “It’s All Downhill From Here” is crisp and thick, hard enough to bite into the scene and bouncy enough to retain the pop forged in earlier works. Just that sound in and of itself is weighted so heavily, you can still hear it stylized on the newer releases, such as Not Without a Fight and Radiosurgery.

One of my earliest memories of this album was the fact that it ground to a halt with the sudden addition of slower and quieter songs placed amongst the loud ripping guitars. Though this only tested on a few songs to fairly mixed results, it just seemed so out of place for a NFG record. “I Don’t Wanna Know” is the first time anyone saw the band take a step back with more acoustic based melodies, a layer of swishing violins and singer Jordan Pundik not belting our lyrics as loudly as he could.

The songs weren’t bad, just out of place. New Found Glory was known for coming out guns blazing and forcing you to jump with the energy that blared through the stereo. When that flow of power was suddenly interrupted by a ballad, it just felt forced and unnecessary. Looking back at it now, I appreciate the songs more, but they’re still not the best that the band has to offer. But these experiments helped build the foundation to allow for blend light and loud music, such as the brilliant cover of “Kiss Me” from From the Screen to Your Stereo Pt II.

Ultimately, this experimentation in style wouldn’t lead to too much. It set the groundwork for the next release, Coming Home two years later with much more somber songwriting and matured sense of lyricism. However, much like the rest of their discography after Coming Home, Catalyst is mostly high energy punk rock. Most of the songs are hard, fast and legendary among NFG’s discography.

Staples “Intro” and  “It’s All Downhill From Here” are chief among the anthems that are unquestionably necessary for any and all live shows.  “Truth of My Youth” is a classic song that feels like it was ripped straight out of Sticks and Stones. The melody is alarmingly simple and stretches over the rapid drumming and bass. The guitars find quick solos that hide themselves in the choruses and try not to steal the show.

“At Least I’m Known For Something” is a gem hidden near the end of the album, with a slow build up of chugging guitars and lightning quick drumming, becoming quicker and louder for twenty seconds. The entire set up just builds and builds until the vocals finally appear. It’s only fitting that a song this strong and deliberately loud helps close out the album, as it would be five years, until 2009’s Not Without a Fight that NFG would write a song as strong or as hard.

Catalyst isn’t the album that NFG are most remembered for, but it’s one that fans of the band can’t live without. A decade later, the hits on the album are so good that they’d still impress if they were new today. The few forays into more acoustic based songs don’t particularly disappoint, but ultimately were an experimentation stylistically that the band eventually dropped almost altogether. It was the last ‘proper’ sounding NFG album for years though, until the Tip of the Iceberg EP brought the energy back in full form as a rough punk album.

NFG still retain many of the elements perfected on Catalyst as the backbone to their current writing style: loud, fast punk wrapped around a simple melody that will never leave your brain. As the fourth incredibly memorable album in a row (Nothing Gold Can Stay was incredible, admit it), Catalyst is proof that a band doesn’t need to completely reinvent themselves in order to grow and mature. The smallest tweaks and tests can make all the difference and still maintain the legacy of songwriting that fans demand.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.