If there is one thing Johnny B. Morbid from New Jersey can do, it’s write a catchy song. The second time I gave this album a listen, I was singing along. These guys play horror themed poppy punk. It’s not pop punk by any means, but punk rock with a poppy twist. There are so many metal genres these guys thouch on as well. It’s obvious they like their metal.
Much like Bad Religion, their recording is very clean and polished. It sounds sort of non-threatening, not in a bad way, just non-threatening. Unlike Bad Religion, the passion for what they are doing shows through and it’s actually pretty good. Yes, that’s a jab at Bad Religion.
After giving this album several listens and making up my mind on what I thought, I checked into the band a little more. Johnny B. Morbid started at a one man band, releasing albums and playing everything on his own for two years. After growing in popularity and trying out a few sets of musicians for live shows, the band expanded little by little. I have not listened to any of his/their other efforts, but I can say, the musicians on this album are great.
The opening/title track kicks in hard. This is my favorite track on the album. It’s the catchy, poppy punk with a metal flavor that these guys are good at and this track shows every positive and no negative of what this band is capable of.
In the second track, “Population: 0”, I noticed something. The clean recording is sort of a double-edged sword for this band. It’s so clean that every piece of vocal that is a little off, is very noticeable. The rest of the album is this way. I’m not saying it’s bad. If the recording were grittier, it would fit better. If there were maybe a few more takes to really hit each note, it would fit better with the clean recording. Aside from this, the music is superb and, again, it’s catchy as hell.
“Delusions” is a solid track, musically. I think this song is the one where the vocals sound most “off” pitch-wise though. The catchiness carries it through without letting that make a mess of the entire track.
“Forever” is next. Not quite as catchy as “Welcome to Die” but one of the top tracks on the album. There are some great vocal harmonies towards the end that expand their sound a bit. Again, every note the band plays is heard with this crisp recording. Even if it’s not your style, it’s catchy enough that you’d probably find yourself singing along anyway.
On “Last Day Alive” the band slows it down and the first thing that comes to mind is, “every bad boy’s got a soft side.” Here in the US, there was a hair metal power ballads album advertised on television with that catch phrase so please excuse me if it didn’t make complete sense to you readers on the other side of the Atlantic. This song is a bit reminiscent of the late 90’s-early 2000’s pop punk bands who put ballads on their albums. While those songs usually consisted of whining about their fathers, this one is about the fact that tomorrow might never get here. It’s a good, catchy acoustic song that still keeps that horror theme going.
When “Enough” comes in, it’s a good kickstart after the ballad. Quick poppy punk and super catchy. “Dying’s not enough to make me happy” will be rolling off your tongue in no time when listening to this one.
On “Drinking About You”, I noticed that these guys could transition nicely into a new country band. They use lots of plays on words, much like newer pop country artists. This is evident again on “Sincerely, Gabriel” with the line “kill me now or forever hold your peace”. On a side note, “Sincerely, Gabriel” also has a killer blast beat, total metal annihilation section in it.
“Stockholm” is another of my favorite cuts on this album. Still strong, catchy sections all over this one. A great melodic hardcore type breakdown at the end ties it all together.
“Death Undefeated” hits us like a ton of bricks and sounds like we’re getting a thrash masterpiece. It immediately kicks into more catchy poppy punk but has some great double bass and metal sections in it. It’s sort of reminiscent of newer Propagandhi stuff. Blending so many elements of poppy punk and metal really works great here.
There’s a great black metal sounding opening on “Erebus”. It transitions into a killer thrash/power metal song. Unfortunately, the vocal style doesn’t fit here for me at all and leaves me feeling that the song fell short of what could’ve been great. Don’t discard the song altogether from my point of view on the vocals though. Every riff in this song is awesome and the drums hit hard. So much potential for a kick ass thrash song here.
To end this album, the band kicks into a metalled-up version of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” and then transitions into a full-force rock out version of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”. Great way to close the album strong.
Each song on this album (after “Welcome to Die”) seems to have two issues. One, it seems to be missing something. I can’t put my finger on it. I think the album may just be a little too polished and loses a little edginess in that aspect. Two, the vocals are a little flat here and there. The upside is that the songs are played so well by the band and it’s just all written so well, that it evens itself out.
Fans of Bad Religion, Good Riddance, Propagandhi and Calabrese should find elements in Johnny B. Morbid’s “Welcome to Die” that they enjoy. Check it out and see what you think for yourself.
Visit Johnny B Morbid’s facebook page – HERE
And you can purchase the album (or songs) on Itunes – HERE
Also you can visit their website at www.johnnybmorbid.com