State of Conviction "A Call to Arms" CDPosted on Friday, June 9th, 2006 @ 8:48am » permalink
Hell yeah, I'm so damn glad to finally see this thing available again. This record brings me back to a time when I was doing websites for like half the fucking bands in Cleveland or something – to the point where I got emails on a daily basis from people who assumed I was from that area. State of Conviction's "A Call to Arms" was recorded back in 1996/1997 and originally came out on Dwid's old Holy Terror label in either '97 or '98, I can't remember, but this remastered/repackaged reissue is out now on frontman Jason Popson's own Fractured Transmitter label.
I loved this band from the first moment I heard them back in the late-90's, and always felt like this album was way underrated. Perhaps that happened because their sound is definitely unique, and especially at the time when this album was current a lot of listeners had a habit of ignoring or insulting any aggressive music that couldn't be fairly easily pigeonholed into one subgenre or another. While this band builds upon elements of both hardcore and metal, it's not really all that hardcore-oriented aside from general mindset and certain elements of the lyrical content – but then again it's not exactly something that strikes me as blatantly metal either, it's definitely an odd yet innovative blend of the two. They've often been lazily compared to other Cleveland bands, but I just can't agree with that because it cheapens their level of creativity and creates an inaccurate picture of what the band truly offers. Maybe the focal role of a distinct bass tone and occasional appearances of slap bass highlight the groove-laden nature of the material too much for some, but these guys handled those elements expertly, and that tactful groove was a lot of what helped separate them from anything else that was going on at the time. Plus, while not as rare a breed as today, original sounding vocalists were already harder and harder to encounter back then as well, and Popson's performances are always immediately recognizable as his own.
This edition of the CD boasts an improved layout that finally includes lyrics (I really dig a lot of these lyrics, and some of them are damn hard to make out on the album, so this is a great addition) as well as a couple more live photos… though the layout neglects to list the band lineup!? There are also fewer samples on this pressing (likely for legal reasons), but I actually think that's a good thing, because the record really does flow better without 'em. The only minor drawback in my opinion is that the new mastering seems thinner somehow. I still listen to my original copy of this album fairly often and feel like that first pressing sounded heavier. The band's bassist Craig Martini is fuckin' awesome and his basslines are gonna be prominent no matter what, but it feels like the remastering has stripped out some of the density – probably in trying to get things a smidge clearer, I guess. It doesn't detract from the quality of the songwriting or anything, but should the album ever come back around for a third visit I'd definitely like to see some of that beefiness return – the dude's a great god damn bassist, so if his playing fights for space with the guitars, so be it! But regardless, this record has been unavailable for far too long, and a lot of those who missed out the first time around should give it a shot now.
Apparently State of Conviction is actually back together, which I was totally unaware of until this morning. There was a time when Jason Popson was in like three or four killer bands at once, so it's about time he got back in action with a band of this nature (cough, cough, now if only In Cold Blood would miraculously reunite with the "Hell on Earth" lineup, ahem). This one comes very much recommended and I damn sure hope the reunited group does indeed stick around for a second full-length. Pick this shit up, kids: