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Bayside The Walking Wounded Review

by Jason Marder

If you've traipsed anywhere near the 'scene' this past year, you've certainly gotten word of the tragic van accident that claimed the life of Bayside's ex-drummer, John 'Beatz' Holohan, midway through their 2005 tour. If you've heard of the incident, you're also probably among the many who've been blanketed by a crippling fear of the impossibility of Bayside returning to tip-top shape. Thankfully, the band succeeded in choosing a replacement drummer (Chris Guglielmo) whose style uncannily resembles Beatz's and who perfectly complements the original three.

The Walking Wounded, the follow-up to 2005's self-titled album, would have been easy to make into a 12-song eulogy for the dearly departed band-mate and scene hero. Fortunately, the band got all their mourning out of the way on the Acoustic CD/DVD: a recording of the somber yet ethereal acoustic shows that singer Anthony Raneri and guitarist Jack O'Shea performed at the remaining tour stops and a true tribute to Holohan. Though the title may hint at another sappy round of wallowing, The Walking Wounded never makes any clear references to the accident and even sounds surprisingly hopeful at times. The uplifting lyrics on many of the tracks, most notably on the unforgettable single 'Duality' on which Raneri chants 'some say it's all fate, but I say we control our lives', truly prove that the band is working towards and absolutely succeeding in moving past the loss of such an integral part of their lives and careers.

But fear not fellow Debby and Donny Downers of the world, The Walking Wounded is not all rainbows and unicorns. Though one track is ironically titled, 'They're Not Horses, They're Unicorns', its chugging Metallica-esque guitars lay the perfect framework for the cynical, biting lyrics ('I'm all frayed and torn at the seems, just like you said I'd be') that Raneri delivers in his perfectly lethargic inflection that brings scene kids to tears. And although Raneri certainly gives Bayside their unique sound in a burgeoning genre filling with made-up, eye-blacked dilettantes, the band's adroit musicianship is not something that should be overlooked. The album's opener 'The Walking Wounded', an experimental track that strays from the band's typical verse-chorus-verse formula and guest stars Vinny Caruana (I Am the Avalanche), showcases the bomb chops of O'Shea who lets loose in a shredding, wah-drenched solo. On tracks like 'Carry On' and 'Choice Hops and Bottled Self-Esteem', however, O'Shea favors a more melodic and complementary, yet equally as intricate solo, and the band truly gels.

By covering more diverse ground than previous releases, yet still staying true to their broken-heart roots, Raneri and Co. retain their die-hard fans while still expanding into new territory and attracting long-awaited attention and acclaim. If the Bayside we see on this release is as wounded as the album title might suggest, one can only imagine the musical force they'll be at full strength.

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