Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace – The Offspring

The Offspring have had a long and legendary career— if you’ve never listened to them before, I recommend you first check out “Divide By Zero” and “Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell” (they’re meant to be played sequentially). Of course, I’m recommending this album because it is by far their best. Out of the gate, “Half-Truism” is gloriously triumphant, with those infectious (albeit common) chords in the chorus just compelling listeners to sing along. “Trust in You” comes next, and it’s an incredible attack of a song, full of innovative, interesting drumming. Perhaps drummer Josh Freese (of Devo, Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, and others) is the real star of the album, working wonders on, for example, “Hammerhead”, with constantly changing, deeply intricate patterns that drive the unique excitement of the song. The third track of the album is “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”, The Offspring’s biggest hit (and deservedly so); the folktale plotline, pulse-pounding drumbeat, and dynamite melody are the type to stay with you for a long, long time. Dexter Holland’s vocals shine all over this album— I could rave about “A Lot Like Me”, where he bounces between a calm, low intensity and his trademark melodic shriek, but “Takes Me Nowhere” is the best vehicle for him on this album, allowing his melody line to carry the groove and combine the power of his emotion with the energy of The Offspring’s rhythms. This band is definitely true to form with the vocal harmonies, the only strength shared between The Offspring and The Outfield. Another remarkable thing about this band’s work is the way the bass and guitar lines work in concert, noticeably trading off to great effect in “Nothingtown”‘s wonderful solo. It’s a little funny that neither the guitar nor the bass ever play their own real melody on this album (even the phenomenal opening riff to “Hammerhead” is just an arpeggio) while the drummer is constantly creating engrossing riffs. That said, that works really well for this band, mainly because of the crisp, well-planned guitar production. From start to finish, this is an epic album, so make sure to stick around for the tumultuous ska punk riffs of “Let’s Hear It For Rock Bottom”— I promise you won’t regret it!

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