Stabbed in Back play a brand of fast, thrashy punk that tries to sound like DRI but ultimately more updated; this is a less tongue in cheek version of Sum 41. The track “Hopeless Romantic” is a few seconds over two minutes, but the band already seems to be running into a problem of not having enough in the way of material to fill their tracks. The track does not seem strained at this point, but a few seconds more and listeners would have hoped that the band threw in another variation or two of the arrangements on “Hopeless Romantic”.
The thrashy guitars are the one constant in this album, which sputters to a final only eight minutes in. To say that this album goes by fast would be to drastically overestimate the speed in which the tracks are cut. The band gets into their own groove during “Evertyhing Went Black”, a song that allows Stabbed in Back to come up with a chorus that individuals can sing along with for months to come. The only thing that starts to become problematic has to be that the fuzz thrown onto the track is static as all get out; there is nothing in the way of differentiation, another fact that makes Stabbed in Back’s music have the ominous possibility to get repetitive much quicker than other punk acts on the market. However, what “Everything Went Black” does well is create an environment in which the eighties metal and punk genres are allowed to mesh for a longer period of time. The track breaks the three minute mark without much in the way of a rut being created, so Stabbed in Back has momentum coming into the very Priest-sounding opening of “Bathroom Small Poetry”.
Even though “Bathroom Small Poetry” is only two minutes, Stabbed in Back is able to milk the opening for about half a minute. What this instrumental does is absolutely necessary; it gives listeners a break from the same old story and makes the second half of “A Portrait of Noise” that much more fresh. The problem is still there with the distortion, but the band is able to make a different-sounding track on “Bathroom Stall Poetry”. The EP is not enough evidence to tell whether Stabbed in Back will be able to carry a full album in the future. Wait until they cut their full-length, and give that your undivided attention. Stabbed in Back is good but there are some kinks that need to work themselves out.
Top Track: Bathroom Stall Poetry