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The Explosion shreds through ‘Black Tape’

Ryan Rogers | Thursday, November 4, 2004

Just when you have fallen off your skateboard and you cannot seem to find any glass to smash The Explosion comes out with “Black Tape.”Hailing from Boston, The Explosion touts a blue-collar harder-than-thou attitude. “Black Tape” features straightforward punk rock very similar to The Explosion’s previous releases. “Street Punk” or 70’s style punk are the easiest terms to use when classifying this album. Simple guitar riffs and repeating chanting vocals will remind listeners of a more produced version of old school punk bands. Power chord after power chord, The Explosion keeps the short, fast, loud culture moving. The lyrical content of “Black Tape” stays true to punk rockers everywhere. There is not one song about girls or love, yet the album is extremely romantic. The album romanticizes being dedicated to your beliefs and loyalty to your friends the only way distorted guitars and scratchy vocals can. With lines like “We both know that people come and go / But it’s alright cuz good friends never die” and “Facing truth is in our blood,” “Black Tape” is perfect background music when you are slapping high fives with buddies.The band’s front man, Million Dollar Matt Hock, has a gorgeous voice. He rasps and chants with punchy energy, but beneath the gravely vocals his voice finds a melody that works remarkably well. His voice perfectly compliments “Black Tape’s” lyrical content. Hock sings about being battle-hardened and the modern revolution in an optimistic way. Listening to him sing feels authentic, like he’s been there, or at least his vocal chords have.However, this macho style is both “Black Tape’s” strength and weakness. On the one hand, it is a whole lot of fun, and perfect for singing along or playing air guitar. But on the other hand, it offers very little in terms of originality. There is next to nothing that sets this album apart from other fist-pumping punk outfits.The first spin of this album is a rush. It opens with “Deliver Us” which begins with some funky feedback that leads into ringing guitar chords until a pick slide cues havoc in the mosh pit. The very first lyrics of the album lets the listener know what they are in for: “Give us this day our daily dead.” From here “Black Tape” has several hard and true punk tracks like “Filthy Insane” and “Go Blank,” both of which quickly repeat their respective titles over and over again. These songs will please harder punk fans but The Explosion also has some more ballad style rock songs. “Heavyweight” gently rocks at a slower pace but still maintains a thrashing nature. “Black Tape’s” first listen is high-energy and diverse enough for the listener to want to put the thirty-seven minute disc right back into the player. But after a few listens the album does not really endure. Some of the tracks are very catchy and memorable, keeping the listener coming back for more, but on the whole the album gets a little boring. Repeat listening is the downfall of this album.For artistic, intelligent, soft music ignore The Explosion, but if you want furious, gutsy punk rock, pick up “Black Tape.”