An energetic hybrid of punk and metal
Californian hard rock band The Shrine is back three years after their 2016 release Rare Breed with a new four-song EP Cruel World. The EP is short, but each song is energetic and noteworthy. The group, which consists of Josh Landau on vocals and guitar, Court Murphy on bass and Jeff Murray on drums, performs rock music that crosses different styles. Their sound contains the influence of hard rock, punk and metal, thus accumulating into something great that can be seen on Cruel World.
The EP starts with the title track “Cruel World.” It’s definitely one of the more metal-influenced songs on the album, with the heavy guitar riffs and loud vocals. The lyrics are rather ominous, “prison bars/ and poisoned seas/ automatic guns/ for the children of the land of the free.” It definitely appears to be a commentary on the current state of the world, and it works perfectly with the style of the song. Plus, the guitar solo towards the middle of the song is absolutely phenomenal.
Although the second song is “Dance on A Razor’s Edge” begins with a more hard rock/metal sound, it contains a lot of the punk influence of the band. The speaking-like vocals and the “oh’s” in the background give the song a unique sound, while the repetition of “dance on a razor’s edge” at the end is a great way to wrap it up.
“The Taste of Blood” is arguably the best track on the EP. It launches immediately into vocals, with Landau sounding like a modern day, American Johnny Rotten. Plus, his guitar playing continues to shine, and yet another fantastic solo is featured. The call and answer of the title of the song makes it a true modern day punk rock song, and a wild ride of one at that. Finally, the EP ends with “She Is Never Satisfied” which has a surprisingly ’80s sound to it. The varying in style between songs showcases Landau’s vocal talents well.
Though the EP is wonderful, one thing that can be noted is that every song repeats the title almost constantly throughout their choruses. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but often times the best song titles come from a more surprising space. All in all, Cruel World is well worth a listen for fans of the group and new listeners alike. It has a retro style to it that isn’t often seen in music nowadays.