Post-hardcore. 1980's metal. Punk rock. Southern pride. Does that seem like enough elements to make up a chaotic mess from another southern hardcore metal band? Maybe so, but the Louisiana-based Twelve Gauge Valentine went just a little further with their Exclamationaire EP, which was release independently in 2005. They released their full-length debut Shock Value on Solid State Records in the fall of 2006, and since then it has received below average sales in both Christian and secular markets. This, among other unspoken events, led the band to perform a final tour in selected cities across America in the winter of 2007. Vocalist Jon Green announced that the band would continue writing new music independently without intentions of going on tour. Despite a lack of popularity, there is uniqueness in Shock Value that brings something a little different to hardcore music.
Musically, this album is both weird and creative at the same time. To better understand the music, think of Norma Jean, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster with a little AC/DC all rolled into one, without the southern rock influences. Jon Green's vocals are primarily spoken words, somewhat similar to the vocal delivery of mewithoutYou mixed with some screaming vocals reminiscent of Norma Jean. The album begins with an interlude of radio static followed by switching between different stations, which quickly fades into the first song called "Casket Junkie." The song opens up the album very well while telling a strange story about stopping a lady obsessed with death and murder, "She's out of the grave and she's ready for anything, Buckle up your seatbelt for the ride of your life, We've got to stop this from happening, When I see your face it's the opposite of grace."
The lyrics to Shock Value are like a satire at times. Much of the lyrics are so far fetched and outrageous that they are not meant to be taken seriously. Other times the lyrics do not make much sense, but there is still a creative approach. "Dive Bomb" can be argued as a message asking hypocrites and nonbelievers to separate from the evil of the world, "Run from this prison we created in our lives, Get me out, It's just another way into the cheaper way of life, All you sinners come out, Come clean, All you sinners stop hiding behind the shadows." If there is a message at all on the rest of the album, it is extremely vague. There is not a negative lyric in the songs; it's just hard to make out the meanings to some of them.
If these guys went back on tour again, I can see them performing with He Is Legend and Every Time I Die. There is not a single ballad on Shock Value, which is a definite plus because it would have ruined the creativity of Twelve Gauge Valentine. Other than confusing lyrics and satire, the major downfall of Shock Value is that it is too short. There is plenty of energy on this record, but rocking out to eleven songs for less than 32 minutes is a catastrophe. Now don't get me wrong -- these guys rock and they do not have one bad song on this album. Shock Value might not live up to its full potential, but it is a good and creative effort. Fans of southern hardcore music should give this album a listen.- Review date: 1/3/09, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Solid State Records
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