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01. The Unholy Hand
02. Along For The Ride
03. Style Over Everything
04. Youth Wasted
05. Too Many Devils
06. Pilot Light
08. Under The Rabbit
10. Valley Heat
11. Life Less Ordinary
12. Last Relevation
When not performing as their Mariachi-based alter egos, The Bronx has long been known for creating some of the chaotic and self-destructive punk in Los Angeles. After a stint as Mariachi El Bronx, there were questions about what would become of The Bronx, and how their ever-evolving sound would manifest itself this time around. Would they delve back into their raging punk roots, or would they mellow with age like so many of their contemporaries? The answer, fittingly enough, is as complex as the band itself.
To be fair, IV has rightfully been hailed as the group’s most ‘mature’ album to date, which really is a nice way of saying that it is the most refined, traditional, and polished of The Bronx’s endeavours. To say such things about many bands would be tantamount to an absolute condemnation, but not in this case. The Bronx have always been known for their snotty, visceral brand of punk, and by mixing that raw intensity with expertly written songs and an absolute abundance of hooks, you have the makings of a memorable album.
Beginning the record is a slew of veritable radio hits including "The Unholy Hand," "Along for the Ride," and "Youth Wasted." These songs are overflowing with memorable riffs, catchy chorus, and a swagger reminiscent of later Turbonergo albums. The album's stand-out track, "Style Over Everything" is a monstrous tune that blends driving rhythms, snarled vocals, and anthemic choruses, which leaves no doubt that The Bronx may have matured, but they have not lost any of the intensity that they have long been infamous for.
The only real low point on IV is the uninspired "Torches." On a less intense or fluid album this awkwardly executed song may have gone unnoticed, but such a poor showing becomes glaringly obvious when it is surrounded by far superior songs, like "Pilot Light" and "Under the Rabbit." Fortunately, the downturn is short lived, with "Ribcage" and other scorchers restoring the listener’s faith in this record.
The latter half of IV holds one of the album's most intriguing tracks; "Life Less Ordinary" is a haunting, drumless lament that does not seem out of place, despite the high-energy nature of the rest of the record. In fact, it is probably the best example of the 'maturity' that runs through IV. The track’s sparse use of instruments and the restrained vocals lends itself well to such grim lyrical content.
Bottom Line: For those expecting a repeat performance of the The Bronx's early albums, this is not the record for you. Similarly, if you are hoping for a subdued or mellow outing from these Los Angeles veterans then you will be disappointed. However, if you are searching for songs that blend unrefined punk intensity, well-crafted hooks, and seasoned song writing abilities, then this may be the record for you.
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