01. Start Over 02. We Die Down Here 03. Locked And Loaded 04. Use Your Machine Gun Arm 05. Elevators 06. Precious 07. Place Blame Here 08. Casual Tragedy 09. Crowded Room 10. Aui2003 Stillborn Records
Put yourself in my shoes for a moment: You just received a CD by a band called The Program on Stillborn Records whose packaging compares them to "AFI, Glassjaw, The Used and Taking Back Sunday." Your options are: A) to give the record a chance or B) immediately throw it in the trash. I consider myself lucky that I chose option A, because much to my surprise, "Artifical Unintelligence" is a good record. Apparently the comparisons are just a stroke of clever marketing, because although The Program blends elements of hardcore with the occassional catchy melody, their ability to keep the songwriting solid puts them head and shoulders above the aforementioned bands. It's really difficult to describe this band in terms of comparison, because there are so many elements at work here. There is definitely an influence of Boysetsfire-style metalcore at work here, alongside the up-tempo punk of Good Riddance or Kid Dynamite. It's almost like Thrice if they didn't try quite so hard to please everyone. I know these might not seem like the most appealing descriptions, but the disc has really grown on me because of the diversity of musical styles present. While many bands who try to combine styles merely end up jumbling them together in an incoherent mess of a record, The Program are focused and talented enough to pull it off. The entire disc is full of solid tracks, making it hard to pick a few to focus on. Just know that each song has something unique added in, making it special. Whether it's the harmony vocals of "Place Blame Here" or the drumming on "Precious," The Program seems to understand how to keep a listener past track three. There is definitely no "hit" here, but pretty much any song on this record would be the stand-out track on your favorite guilty pleasure's latest disc. I have no problem saying that the style of music that The Program plays is definitely not what I would typically listen to, but I think that makes me all the more impressed by how much I like this record. Lyrically, The Program walks a fine line between quasi-political and slightly cliche, but this disc has so much going for it, that I really can't complain about this occassional shortcoming. The lyrics to the disc's title track "A.U.I." really sum up this band in a nutshell: "I refuse to limit myself anymore/Your opinion is just that." It's like this band doesn't believe in the boundaries of music and it shows with the song's closing mantra, "Why don't you break all the walls/Why don't you crack all the skulls" Bottom Line: This record may not change the way music is made or the way we see the world, but it really made me wonder what I might've been missing out on, just because of how a band presents themselves. If I had been in a record store and had seen this CD, I would've never bought it. Quite frankly, this is one of the most gratifying reviews I've ever written because I really feel like a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have given The Program a chance might now. Who knows. Either way, I've got a new record in my constant rotation.
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