In the last year, there have been a number of noisy bands that have had the honor of blowing me out of my seat. This included, but was not limited to The Locust and Some Girls. Both of those bands showed me that there were some salvageable aspects to noisy types of rock. Saying that, Schoolyard Heroes has the equivalent to a little yipper dog in Ryann’s vocals during “Body Shots”. Irritating on that track, Ryann’s vocals have the saving grace of actually conforming to some sense of harmony during “Panic In The Year”, where notes of early-No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani can be heard. The brutal hair-metal interlude present in “Panic In The Year” really re-cast Ryann’s vocals into the purveyor of something incredibly heavy, and in this sense Ryann’s vocals can transcend the early annoyance into something that can both wow in an instrumental and lyrical sense.
The dichotomy between technicality and heaviness. In fact, “Fantastic Heroes” really takes a positive turn after the very brief (and incredibly weak) “Body Shots” begins the disc. “Body Shots” is a mite over a minute, so the damage that the band does in regards to those who turn the disc off after it is minimal. The incredible mass of tracks like “Serial Killers Know How To Party” allow for the Schoolyard Heroes disc to be spun over and over; at any one given time on this track, there are Ryann’s vocals, a tribal drum beat played by Brian, almost electronic-sounding guitars played by Steve and hints of bass played by Jonah. If Schoolyard Heroes was less of a band, the resulting activity on the track would result in chaos. The simple fact is that tracks like “Centaur: Half-Man Half-Motorcycle” look back to the operatic (Manowar) metal of the eighties without any of the irony present in bands like The Darkness and the dorkiness of bands like Blind Guardian .
The tracks on “Fantastic Heroes” are slightly longer than the average rock track (averaging out at about four minutes), but do not present anything in the way of an interest problem to Schoolyard Heroes. Instead of relying on massive amounts of repetition, tracks like “The Girl Who Was Born Without A Face” bring enough new to the table that individuals will never go intellectually hungry. “Fantastic Heroes” is a tour de force that only derivates from success once, as the band tries to find their footing. Beyond that, Schoolyard Heroes show themselves to be a well-oiled machine, not allowing themselves to fall into the rut of chaotic arrangements or too-technical sounds to their music.
Top Tracks: They Live, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Schoolyard Heroes – Fantastic Heroes / 2005 The Control Group / http://www.schoolyardheroes.com / http://www.controlgroupco.com / Reviewed 04 August 2005