The Cringe – Scratch The Surface (CD)

The intensity in which The Cringe start off “Scratch The Sruface” was really a surprise, in that there was no lead-up to the track, just Rob’s guitar leveling the audiences from the first riff. “Been Alone” is much more of the same radio-friendly type of rock that really has polluted the nation’s airwave, but done in a slightly more palatable style. There is a certain amount of musicianship that is shown on the track that will have listeners begrudgingly give credit to the band (manifest in the extended guitar solo) even if the style of music that Cringe plays is as far as one can get from their musical tastes. “Burn” moves The Cringe farther to a college-rock type of style, while bizarrely using some of the same guitar riffs that were present in the Insane Clown Posse’s “Thy Unveiling”. Each of the tracks on “Scratch The Surface” really paint a different section of The Cringe; it is almost as if the band had sat down and decided that one on track, they would strive for a Staind sound, and the next a Nickelback sound.

Still, The Cringe really delineate themselves from these bands by the shrieking, intricate and virtuosic guitars that find their way into practically every track on “Scratch The Surface”. While there are some of these riffs that do verge on the edge of being too long (such as in “Too Many Problems”, they provide a nice break from the “normal” fare that The Cringe places on this album. “Grave”, the disc’s longest track by far (nearly two minutes longer than any of the other tracks on “Scratch The Surface”) is plagued with a middling tempo and a really bland, Alice in Chains-type of style that really pulls down the disc from its heights at what should be the band’s artistic crux. However, after a minor hiatus the band is able to put forth a Goo Goo Dolls-type of track in “Life That You Choose” that revitalizes the disc with its straight-forward sound and peppy tempo.

“Empty Table” succumbs to that same originality problem, as the style just smacks of Shinedown, while the band is unable to bring the same relevancy and interest to the track as they have been in previous tracks. The Cringe starts off “Scratch The Surface” with tremendous energy but has trouble trying to maintain this same tempo and focus, which leads to a disc that is uneven, even if there is evidence throughout that the band will be able to coalesce for a better second album.

Top Tracks: Bleed, Life That You Choose

Rating: 5.1/10

The Cringe – Scratch The Surface / 2005 Listen / 13 Tracks / http://www.thecringeband.com / http://www.listenrecordings.com/ / Reviewed 25 May 2005

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