CD REVIEW: Reason To Rebel - Imaginary Foes
By: Levi Canfield
Artist:Reason To Rebel
Album: Imaginary Foes
Label: Aboveground Records
Genre: Progressive Hard-Rock
Sounds Like: The Mars Volta, System of a Down
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Imaginary Foe, You’re Dead!, Hemp War
Strengths: Strong Riffs, Off-time Signatures, Mixing
Weakness: Unimaginative Lyrics, Poor Bridges
Reason To Rebel released their 3rd album, Imaginary Foe, in sun soaked southern California. The quintet play hard progressive rock music that has it’s own identity. The band creates the identity by mashing together a ton of blistering hooks, funky bass, charging drums, and passionate vocals. On their newest CD, the band brought in drummer from Finch to produce the album, giving the lead singer and owner of Aboveground records (Luke Chandler) the reigns to put everything into just the vocals.
Imaginary Foe is an ambitious album, but it also does an moderate job at reaching that goal too. Through out the album there are tons of riffs and grooves to get locked into. Normally not staying too long in one place at a time, the band manages to create a hard rocking band, with the skanked rock of sublime slightly mixed in. Bringing in Alex definitely was a boost for the album as well. His mixing on the album definitely helps highlight the bands groovy rhythms and chasing guitars. Those charging guitars are heard best on “You’re Dead!”, an excellent vamp-up for the album. While not one song is similar to another, there is definitely one stand out on the album in “Hemp War”, which saddles the fence with nu-metal (scary I know). Luke’s vocals bring this song out, one of his stronger performances for sure. The self titled track is a clear message of everything Reason To Rebel have to offer. Over the course of its 5:25 run-time, you get the best chorus on the album, a star dazzled solo, and a solid rhythm foundation with the odd time signatures exclusive to this band. All of this packed into a CD that was professionally made with stunning art and a beautiful pull-out containing all the lyrics.
In fact all the art-work has something to that is weed related, and the band was going to tour behind the album on the Legalize The Nation! US Tour. Ironically, the stoney idea never came to fruition and that lies the the biggest problem with the album. A lot of this LP sounds like a less coherent version of System of a Down. Always touching on some political or social injustice, but never being able to be the best words to suite the song. A lot of the songwriting is really dry, and hard to get a clear meaning out of. The bridges during songs sometimes feel very forced too. The transition between all the different grooves and time shifts sometimes feels more forced then necessary. The awkward shifts don’t take all of the wind out of Reason To Rebels sails, but it definitely makes the listener bat an eye.
On the whole, Reason To Rebel would make an excellent opening band for The Mars Volta, but to say they are quite up to snuff would be too much. The fire is definitely started, but the band just needs to find a better way of controlling it now. After tightening up the vocals, the mixing, and cutting any dead weight from songs, the band could find themselves with an outstanding 4th album. Until then, this hard rocking 3rd LP will have to do.
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