01. A Sign of Things to Follow
02. Human Target
05. Temporary Hype
06. In the Digital World
08. Multiple Personality Disorder
09. Sedate Me
10. (Work)ing Dead
11. Warning Signs
12. The Countdown Begins
13. Too Paranoid for Politics
14. Don't Want to Fade (to Death)
2009 Think Fast! Records
I'm a big fan of Outbreak's past work. I'd even go as far as to say that Outbreak's You Make Us Sick is one of the top ten best hardcore records of the past decade, no matter where you draw the line for the genre. The Maine act's ability to write 45 second bursts of pissed-off-to-the-max, energetic anthems is unparalleled when the band is firing on all cylinders, and in many cases, no amount of musical ingenuity or experimentation can match the effectiveness of such a grating, urgent sound.
But we're not in the year 2004 any more and with a bit of an unstable roster (the Outbreak machine now operates with an almost entirely different line-up), what can be expected with this new self-titled release
Luckily, even though the manpower may be different, the band's sound and style remains unadulterated. The opening track, "A Sign of Things to Come," tackles the aforementioned question as it rips through a satisfying sequence of feedback, fast chord progressions, and gang vocals in less than 30 seconds. The recipe for the remaining 14 tracks doesn't stray too far from that bar, although longer tracks like "Temporary Hype" and "(Work)ing Dead" manage to stretch their legs and establish a slightly stronger foundation of melody. But at the end of the day, the sub-60 second tracks are still the band's niche. They know their brand, and that's a good thing.
However, there is still a little something lacking in the intangibles department. That unbridled piss-and-vinegar type of attitude of their early releases that was so inspiring seems to have been tamed on this record. The identical musical elements and mentality are still there, but the final result reflects the scenario where a band doesn't necessarily benefit from having a cleaner recording. There are no blatant flaws, but it just doesn't have the same level of "fuck you"-driven energy and rage that the rough-around-the-edges You Make Us Sick wielded so effectively. So even though it's still a good hardcore release, it's not anything over which to be genuinely ecstatic.
Bottom Line: Some praise is in order for Outbreak's drive to press on with a new record and a new label, all while sticking to the hardcore and punk foundation upon which they've crafted their career. Listeners who love fast, pissed-off hardcore will be into this record, but when stacked up against the rest of their releases, this self-titled record feels like it's lacking just enough raw energy to be a true standout.