Album review

40 Below Summer :
The Mourning After

Razor & Tie / Roadrunner Records

40 Below Summer : The Mourning After40 Below Summer were spawned in 1998, when the band's lead singer Max Illidge got together with drummer Carlos Aguilar. The two were joined shortly after by guitarist Jo d'Amico, followed by bass player Hector Graziani and second guitarist Jordan Plingos. After a heavy schedule of touring throughout New York and New Jersey, as well as the release of Sideshow Freaks, their self-released EP, the band managed to secure a record deal with London/Sire Records. This led to the release of debut album Invitation To The Dance towards the end of 2001.
    The Mourning After is the band's follow-up to Invitation To The Dance - the awkward second album, as it were. What's interesting about this one is that, as often fails to happen with bands releasing their second album, 40 Below Summer have used their debut as a guide to what they should or shouldn't do with the follow-up.
    Speaking about Invitation To The Dance, Joe d'Amico noted that, "On the first record, we'd go from this brutal thing to this beautiful thing, but on this one, we made those elements fit more smoothly. Before, we wanted to be really heavy, but we also wanted the music to be melodic, so we'd slap those parts right next to each other. Now we learned how to meld them together to create a sound." And that's exactly what 40 Below Summer have managed to do.

Opening track Self Medicate - featuring the vocals of Ill Niño's Cristian Machado - is a great example of that; a high-energy track with a really effective melody running through its chorus. Breathless, Rain and Taxi Cab Confession are in a similar vein to this, but in F.E. - which also Machado - and A Season In Hell, the album still has its out and out heavy moments. Awakening and Monday Song bring the pace down a bit, but each track fits well into its place on the album, and as a whole it works really well.
    Musically, the tracks are really tight, and the production is also worthy of note - David Bendeth is the man responsible - allowing the melodies to sound really vibrant without sacrificing any of the rawness that the band bring to their material.
    The Mourning After is a refreshingly assured, tuneful and energetic offering from a slightly tired genre, and well worth exploring.

:: Philip Goodfellow

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