Grey Area – Fanbelt Algebra

Grey Area
Fanbelt Algebra

There are many different kinds of punk music. There’s the bratty, punk-pop that’s too radio friendly these days, the hardcore punk that is based more on metal than rock, the Ramonsey punk that makes you want to sing along, and half a dozen others. Grey Area manage to flirt with all of the above and then some, playing with poppy styles as well as hardcore, mixing a little of everything in with their punk. But, best of all, the band clearly has a strong rock upbringing, and that comes across.
“Reminder” shows some of that rock background, when it slows down from its fast and furious punk-rock to a little bit more melodic rock that is prettier and more honest. “Sour Grapes” again starts off more post-hardcore rock than punk, with some sincere and strained vocals. “I watched you stab your closest friends, how dumb I was to think that it couldn’t happen to me,” they sing. You can hear how close bands like Get Up Kids and Promise Ring flirt with the punky side of rock, but Grey Area is on the other side, flirting more with the pop. The band has some great backing vocals, too. While drumming is sometimes uninspired, the guitar here is impressive, even on the more straight-forward punk songs like “Hold on Tight.” “Better Man” shows the band’s hardcore roots, with more driving energy and power riffs. And “Silence” is much more straight-forward rock, with some amazing guitar, fast and powerful but also slowing down pretty and more melodic. Other songs such as “Tennessee” feature some pretty and melodic guitar with a hardcore/punk energy but more of a head-bobbing rhythm. I’m reminded more of Handsome than Saves the Day. But don’t worry, the band has more traditional, high-energy punk numbers, like “Rotten Eggs,” “Gotta Getaway” and the somewhat uninspired, but more hard-core oriented “Colossus.” And after a little personal “thank-you,” “Cannonball” finishes off the album with one of their best songs, both catchy and high-energy but more straightforward, and the vocals shine here as well.
Grey Area features members of Token Entry, Warzone and Black Train Jack, who I actually liked quite a bit. These songs are not simple punk fare but rather deal with real issues, like suicide and death of friends. I think these elements come across better in the more powerful songs, but the band clearly has a mix of influences. They bring them all together here on an impressive album. Fans of punk and hardcore alike can come together on this one.