01. Old Fears, New Frontiers
02. Health, Weath, & Peace
03. Chasing My Tail
04. Media Cunt
05. Blind Are Breeding
06. Fever Hunting
07. Dark Water
08. Brothers In Arms Forever
10. Cracked Sidewalk Surfer
11. Find a Way
2013 Deathwish Inc.
Whenever a beloved band reunites after an extended hiatus there seems to be a sliding scale on which they are evaluated. Too often the reformed group is not solely judged on their output, but rather on their ability to simply recreate the sound for which they have always been known. The tiny asterisk that is regularly placed beside the albums of these regrouped bands fails to allow the work to stand on its own and be evaluated honestly. Instead, reunited bands are often easily dismissed as either a depressing attempt to regain lost glory or a valiant effort to remain relevant in the youth-based hardcore and punk scenes.
With the return of Modern Lie is War (MLIW) after a 5-year hiatus, many wondered which of these two camps the group would fall into; or would they be able to escape the fate of so many similar bands and generate a new form of passionate and intense hardcore that brought them such acclaim in the past. From the first notes of the intro, "Old Fears New Frontiers" the answer is readily apparent: MLIW has not lost a single step. As the intro bleeds into "Health, Wealth & Peace," there is little doubt as to the ability of this group to deliver their patented blend of dissonant melodies, driving beats, and punk rock fury. On top of all of this, the song writing seems more sharpened and focused than ever.
While MLIW has always had up-tempo elements, they have always been widely regarded as a band that had specialized in brooding, dissonant, and almost atmospheric songs. Sparse and droning tones, mixed with depressed and dark lyrics have always been the calling card of a band who has accurately represented the dire straits of the corner of middle America that they have long called home. "Chasing my Tail" is the first glimpse of this sonic embodiment of desperation. Stripping away the upbeat feel of its preceding tracks, this song and "Blind are Breeding" help to demonstrate that MLIW has not simply traded in introspection for sing-alongs, but has rather honed their ability to present a dichotomy of sounds and messages in a single, cohesive product.
On past albums MLIW periodically embraced their fevered punk roots, but that is one of the most consistent elements on Fever Hunting. "Media Cunt" is perhaps the most striking example of this, with memorable riffs, energetic drumming, and a infectious chorus that makes this song instantly memorable and a definite album highlight. The aggressive and expertly-crafted punk rock anthems continue with "Fever Hunting," which balances uptempo rhythms with effective gang vocals.
The discordant riffs, complementary song-writing, and crashing crescendos in "Brothers in Arms Forever" exemplify why Modern Life is War has long been considered the fathers of the current melodic/post-hardcore wave of bands and also shines a light on the striking difference between these innovators and their imitators. The album refuses the let up towards the end either. "Cracked Sidewalk Surfer" is perhaps the most energetic and excited song on Fever Hunting, as well as the most brazenly punk rock track on the album.
Bottom Line: Don't call it a comeback. Modern Life is War remains as vital and relevant as ever and has produced one of their most impressive pieces of work to date.