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Phoenix Mourning - When Excuses Become Antiques

I'm not really supposed to like this band.  Really...I'm not.  In the past I've complained about all the fad bands that play the latest style and then disappear after they make their quick buck.  I had grown sick of it all and how every other band sounded the same.  I had become a bitter "true metalhead" who stopped giving anything else the time of day.  All the metalcore, screamo, and emo bands out there just started to wear on my nerves.  There were a few out there that I still respected, but all those who were just jumping on the bandwagon just annoyed me to no end. 

Well, enter Phoenix Mourning.  When you get an album for review you obviously get to hear more than a crappy 30 second sample on a website.  You hear a band's true intent over and over as you prepare to write about what they've created.  Truth be told, I wouldn't have given Phoenix Mourning much of a chance based on 30 second samples.  And truth be told, I didn't even really get into them after the first full listen to their debut CD, When Excuses Become Antiques.  So what clicked?  Well, it was that second listen, and then the third, and then the fourth, and what seemed like probably 10 or 11 listens leading into this review tonight.  I've stopped listening cause I had to, and I'm listening cause I want to.  That's a good sign. 

So, what the heck can you expect?  Trying mixing the best of Zao with the best of P.O.D.  Now mix in a twist of Still Remains and some of fellow label mates As I Lay Dying, and there you have it...sorta.  What Phoenix Mourning does best is that they masterfully combine the brutality of bands like Zao and As I Lay Dying with the melodic sensibilities of bands like P.O.D. and Still Remains.  One minute they are blasting your brains out with a crushing riff and shrieking vocals and the next minute they are mixing in melodic clean vocals that tug at your emotions, only to rip you to shreds seconds later with machine gun guitars and growled vocals.  They never let up and the passion with which they perform is something to admire.  But doesn't that description sound like a lot of other bands out there?  Yeah, I guess you could say that.  But every once in a while a band does it in a way that makes you sit up and take notice.  And this is one of those bands.

When I think back to Zao and P.O.D.'s early days, I hear bands that sounded like they were just starting out.  They had that smell of greatness, but you knew they had some maturing to do before they blew away the masses.  Phoenix Mourning sounds to me like they have decided to skip that starting out phase and move right into the greatness that they are destined for.  Not bad for a band that I'm not even supposed to like.  

Rating: 94/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: Metal Blade Records

Total Songs: 13

Total Time: 54:05

Tracklisting: 1. Across Twenty-Six Winters, 2. Contrast, 3. Niche', 4. One January Morning, 5. When the Sky Falls, 6. From Afar, 7. A New Decor, 8. Etched, 9. The Ornament, 10. Waiting for the King, 11. My Future Actress, 12. Glass Kiss, 13. 12.5.

Best Songs: Tracks 2, 4, 7, & 12.

Band Lineup: Jeremiah Ruff - Vocals, Kerry DeWitt - Drums, Stephen Bowman - Guitar, Marshall Gibson - Bass, Ahmed Smith - Guitar.

Band Website: http://www.phoenixmourning.com