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At a certain point, a band just has to get real when it comes time to make a new record. 'Getting real' just means being themselves; eventually, a band comes to realize that they don't have to be a dynamic force of nature or a spectacular phenomenon, they just have to remember what got them excited about making their own music in the first place, capture it on record and give it to fans. There's no particular timeline on which bands arrive at this moment (Green Day still isn't there – not even after two concept albums and a three-record trilogy), but fans always know a band is there when they hear it; they know that moment when a band has gotten real has arrived when a new record simply and succinctly encapsulates who the band is as a unit. That record is Dead Language for The Flatliners – there's no question about it. On their fourth album, the Flatliners appear with no bells or whistles attached and not flaunting any fancy production gimmickry, they just show up with a set of thirteen great melodic hardcore songs which rock like hell.
Listeners will be able to recognize what will end up being the common difference between all of the songs on Dead Language and all of the other records in the band's catalogue as soon as “Resuscitation of the Year” opens the record. There, the band appears harder and more solid than they ever have before, with a well-honed but raw (that is, not over-produced) edge; Paul Ramirez's drums have a natural punch (not measured or hindered by a click track's help) which feeds the feel of the performances by bassist Jon Darbey and guitarists Chris Cresswell and Scott Brigham and, in turn, causes Cresswell to really push his vocal tone to its limit. Even here at the beginning, there's a “go for broke” sense in the performance; the song actually sounds like it might have been cut live as the tape rolled, and gives the song a fantastic sense of urgency.
The “unleashed” energy of Resuscitation of the Year” carries over into “Bury Me” and, at that point, listeners will be sold on Dead Language; these first songs are reminiscent of how The Flatliners sound live, and the energy feels great – after that, the only concern is keeping it up.
...And the band holds up their end of the bargain – they never once let the energy of Dead Language dip. Songs like “Sew My Mouth Shut,” “Caskets Full,” “Hounds” and “Young Professionals” all play like a group of the best songs The Flatliners have ever written as the melodic hardcore chops which got hammered flat on Cavalcade actually get amped up and further focused here. The three years that The Flatliners spent on the road promoting Cavalcade proves to have been time well spent too as the band crunches through those aforementioned songs with an excellent balance of fantastic power and finesse that is undeniable. The band also proves that it can step out of its strengths a bit, and flex a few muscles which don't get used as often; on “Birds Of England,” for example, The Flatliners swing far closer to a brand of indie rock similar to that of The Replacements, while “Tail Feathers” recalls dry-eyed tales of suburbia not unlike those which Gaslight Anthem is given to punching out. Those tracks are definitely the 'different' ones on Dead Language but, as 'different' as they might be, the hardcore edge remains; it's slightly recessed beneath the surface of those songs, but it's always there and so never feels like that dramatic of a departure – just a bit of extra flavor in the mix.
After “Brilliant Resilience” finally blows out the back end of the running and closes Dead Language with a fantastic, satisfying bang, listeners will be left to collect themselves and try to define what they've just heard. The answer is simple, really: on Dead Language, The Flatliners haven't done anything spectacular, they've just shown listeners who and what they are at their core. Dead Language is an exposition of the real Flatliners – and it is great.
Ground Control Magazine - "Now Is The Calm Before The Flatliners' Storm" - [Feature Article]
Dead Language will be released on September 17, 2013 by Fat Wreck Chords in the United States and by New Damage Records in Canada. Pre-order it here directly from Fat Wreck, and directly from New Damage here .