Lower Forty-Eight – Halfback

My first reaction upon hearing Halfback was: hey, this is the missing link between metal and punk. Surprisingly, I’ve never really heard music that melds Metallica-like riffs with raw, punk-rock vocals.
To call Lower Forty-Eight’s music “punk,” however, would be misleading. The musicianship and complex compositions are far too precise for that. On much of the album, vocals are few and far between, with plenty of time given for instrumental experimentation. The songs on Halfback tend to meander and flow through various phases as they speed up, slow down, and switch styles. While the non-conventional song structures add interest and variation to the listening experience (if you are patient), at many times the music borders on self-indulgent. Sometimes I wish the band would just get to the point; some songs simply refuse to die, repeatedly stuttering back to life every time I swear I’ve heard the last drumbeat.
In general, the quality of the songs on the disc vary. Some work quite well, such as the opener “The Eternal Internal Implements of Destruction” (nice lite-metal riffage backed by sparse vocals) and “Shane Dank” (a more mellow listening experience with an almost jazzy vibe). However, many bland tracks like “Plague of Appreciation” are a reminder that Lower Forty-Eight are still a new band who have yet to perfect their sound. The sound production on the album is not terrific, with the drums and vocals especially sounding a little flat. On the whole, Halfback is an interesting listen for those who are open-minded. There is more promise here than delivery, however, and there is little to differentiate this album from scores of similar indie efforts.