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Album Review: The Used – Imaginary Enemy

Album Review: The Used – Imaginary Enemy

Artist: The Used
Album: Imaginary Enemy
Tracks: 11
Release Date: 31st March 2014
Label: GAS Union/Hopeless Records

For those of you that are keen listeners to Kerrang, then The Used are going to be a band that you’re familiar with. To date they’ve released five studio albums, their sixth: Imaginary Enemy having been released on the 31st March. The album is pretty much average length for an album by The Used, containing fresh political orientation fresh from the front-man Bert McCracken.

The Used

It seems that being exposed to the world while touring has opened the band’s eyes, their minds and their music. The lyrics have progressed from songs based around that old reliable subject; love. They are of something adventurous and mature, and not bound by the clichés that many artists in the genre are exposed to. It’s refreshing to know that after 13 years, a band can still produce fresh content.

The interesting aspect of the writing process is the band’s ability to instil a subtle political reference, without the listener feeling as though we’re being preached too. There are only a few bands that have been able to achieve the abrasive political approach, Rage Against the Machine to name the most prominent, so this is a definite positive of the record, no one wants to feel as though they’re being preached too, as then it becomes less about the music and more about the message. After all, we want musicians, not more politicians.

Explosive, epic energy roars through this new album and the opening track Revolution breaks through the boundaries with an old and intentionally badly recorded voice over of someone who sounds as though it could be Leon Trotsky, a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army speaking one of his quoted statements: “All revolutions are impossible until they happen, then they become inevitable.”

This is of course interrupted and torn through with nothing but the exact opposite, a raw, fast paced guitar riff. If anything a perfect example of how the impossible becomes the necessary, the peace must at some point become the violent, which is something that The Used are adept at converting into musical form. The song continues to kick-start the album into gear, telling us what’s what and almost puts us in our place like a boy receiving reprimand from his mother, a revealing ferocious start of what is yet to come from the album. You’ll find that in the tracks to follow the balance between Bert’s screams and singing is of a perfect equilibrium, leaving us craving each tone of voice as he switches between the raw and melodic tones effortlessly. This is another positive of the album, as there are many bands in the genre that attempt to apply a similar technique

The softer side of the album creeps through with the track Evolution. The opening of a melodic, high-pitched guitar riff and simple drumbeat splits the album in half where juxtaposition of soft and harsh becomes evident. This changes the album entirely and shows some diversity, something we are always keen to hear.

This is followed by the harshness of the eponymous track Imaginary Enemy which has rightfully taken their album title. The catchy drum beat warms you up for the catchy vocals to follow. The lack of guitar adds emphasis to this and we begin to climb up to the climax of the chorus. This is where you are in the eye of the storm, experiencing the epitome of their music while it roars all around you. Listening to this album makes it hard to stay still. It’ll get your body’s rhythm surfacing through continuous foot tapping and mouthing of lyrics. And for those lucky enough to not be restricted by the public eye, you will find yourselves screaming, head banging and letting all that adrenaline out.

The final song of the album Overdose finishes the album on a high and a low. It’s a total of 14 minutes long and falls between the rawness and softness of the band’s sound. This would be a great finish to the album if it were simply a 3-4 minute song which ended there. But the length of silence drags it out for longer than necessary, leaving you bored, fed up and ready to switch it off.

About 4 minutes later you hear the hidden track. It begins with what sounds like an amateur recording of someone randomly playing a drum kit. It seems endless and damn right ridiculous. But  if you hang in there long enough a voice over of what sounds like Stephen Hawking kicks in. This is very hard to hear and therefore understand.  The voice continues to ramble on and on with a simple drum beat and guitar riff to back it up. It would take a genius to understand what is being said. It is then purposely sped up and turns to pure gibberish which is where the track comes to an abrupt end. So, what on earth was that?!

In the end, it was a very disappointing conclusion to the album but regardless of the final track, this album gives you everything you could ask for, making me for one, a very happy listener aside from the disappointment.

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