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January 27, 2005

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For those acquainted with the last six or so years of hardcore and punk rock music, Strike Anywhere is a moniker that likely rings with familiarity. From the band's humble beginnings to their current status as a renowned, if not borderline classic, hardcore/punk band, Strike Anywhere has attracted listeners on a variety of levels. The band has crafted weighty, memorable songs, maintained a respectable tour schedule, and evolved as a group, which is evident on To Live In Discontent.

Strike Anywhere excels in playing hardcore/punk rock. The band knows how to make aggressive music have an accessible, melodic edge. Vocalist Thomas Barnett can naturally communicate socio-political themes with an honest and personal tone. There's a positive sense of urgency to the band's music, which is difficult to ignore. And, in doing these things and creating these sounds, the band doesn't go overboard or suffer from unnecessary frills and common clichés.

To Live In Discontent is comprised of material spanning Strike Anywhere's career. The focus of it is on the band's debut EP, Chorus of One, which was initially released in 2001. Although years have passed since its inception, the angst and anger sounds relevant, and the ample recording quality makes it entirely listenable. These six songs alone establish To Live In Discontent as a worthwhile listen. The EP's opening and closing songs, "Chorus of One" and "Cassandratic Equation," respectively, are a couple of Strike Anywhere's most memorable cuts, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't stuck them on repeat on occasion.

Luckily, most of the 13 songs avoid being just filler. The first two songs are from a limited 7" release, and "Asleep" is a fiery, gang vocal-heavy song that works as an ideal opener. "Two Fuses" was an outtake from the Exit English recording session and, while its mid-paced approach would've felt out of place on the album, it has some catchy choruses and infectious melodies. An original demo song is included (and is surprisingly good), and the album closes with covers of Gorilla Biscuits, Dag Nasty and Cock Sparrer songs.

To Live In Discontent is something to look into for fans who don't have Strike Anywhere's debut EP, Chorus of One. The record is especially good through the first nine songs, but the extras tacked on at the end are, at the least, fun. Strike Anywhere continues to do things right; even the often cluttered collection album.

Geek Burger

Andrew Haak