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August 31, 2006

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If this was Pitchfork Media or Stylus Magazine, I would be telling you about potentially the most important album you could hear all year. Fucked Up's Hidden World is 72 minutes of meticulously composed and sumptuously layered melodic punk rock. The performances are exciting, the guitars are overdriven and blissfully married to a warm, encompassing production. And, despite operating within the context of an anachronistic style, these songs are adventurous and challenging. In short, this is a dynamic guitar rock machine with a punk engine. Unfortunately, I cannot predict what all that means to you, the readers of Metal Review. On the off chance that you are in the market for something like this, I'll do my job and tell you what it sounds like.

Hidden World, while possessing a contemporary production, almost sounds like it was dug up from punk's bygone heyday. The riffs are usually economical and modest, but they're played so passionately and with such conviction that the listener is reminded why bands first decided to first boil Rock n' Roll down to it's sparest and most honest proportions. Complimenting the primordial riffing are bright, concise counter melodies that account for the brunt of Hidden World's appeal. Now, this isn't Mastodon or Ion Dissonance, so you'll hardly be challenged from a technical standpoint. But, like The Refused or more recently, Bear V. Shark, Fucked Up have done an excellent job at testing what can be done within the context of guitar driven punk rock, and in the process have churned out an album full of memorable guitar licks, runs, and progressions and weaved them into expansive compositions in a way that actually jives. Vocals are a standard, venomous hardcore punk scream which conjures up memories of ... essentially anyone to ever front a local punk band. The bass is present in the mix, and adds much to the album's texture but takes little technical risks. That's not important, it's keeping the time and I can hear it, much more than I can say for 95 percent of the albums I review.

In addition to being well conceived and executed, Hidden World is also uncommonly long. Keeping a rock n' roll audience's attention for well over an hour is nearly impossible, but Fucked Up's riff vocabulary is so vast that they manage the task proficiently.

What does this album lack? For the average metal fan, it's probably not heavy enough, not tech enough, and ultimately has just a little to much open strumming and plucking, and not enough muted galloping and shredding. I'm a little confused as to why Jade Tree even sent us this album, and that's O.K. For what this is, and that's driving punk rock, this is damned good and damned essential for fans of the style.

Metal Review

Dave Fonseca