The slow, simplistic and deliberate arrangements that open up “Open Surgery” are maybe a little slower than the band should really put forth at this early juncture. The effect that “Give Me A Sign” really has on listeners is one of wonder; is this track slowed down enough to be noticeable? “Say What You Want” continues this sound and really starts to show what is so innovative about this band; the arrangements (specifically the drum track on the track) are incredibly Spartan. This mean that there is not the fuzz typically associated with these bands filling the open spaces between each hit; it will take listeners a few songs to really wrap their mind around this development. When the band finally gives into convention and allows their high-hats to add some much-needed fuzz to the disc (“Stationary”) the end result is a track that seems better filled-out and a much easier fit for popular radio.
The nice shift in the band’s sound really happens in “Catch Phrases, Slogans and Chants”. In this track, Man Alive really kick up the tempo to show an AFI / Thought Riot / Strike Anywhere type of beat. Instead of Man Alive just being a pale imitator of that style, the band modifies the very straight-forward sound of these precursor bands and adds some much-needed modifications to the time signatures on the track. After starting out slowly during their first few tracks on “Open Surgery”, the second half of the disc has much more value in terms of solid tracks. “On the Air” uses multiple-harmonies and a singable chorus to rivet listeners into their seats for the final third of the CD. “Against The Wall” blasts through in much the same vein as “Catch Phrases”; the disc’s incredibly short runtime (forty seconds) means that there is no chance that listeners will find themselves tired half-way through. The acoustic-heavy follow up to “Against The Wall”, “Fire” really has as much in the way of nuance and imparted emotion as the previous track had hellfire and speed.
The second half of ”Fire” really is done in the expansive, everyone-understand style of “Train Wreck-era” Boys Night Out. The end result of “Open Surgery” is essentially the feeling that one gets after watching a movie that completely assimilates a number of genres without losing its own spirit and original. This Israeli band is fresh and seriously puts other bands from their homeland (Useless ID, The Astroglides) to shame.
Top Tracks: Hold On, Catchy Phrases, Slogans and Chants
Man Alive – Open Surgery / 2005 The Militia Group / 12 Tracks / http://www.man-alive.com / http://www.themilitiagroup.com / Reviewed 06 October 2005