As I get ready to write up this review for Toronto hard rock band Social Strife‘s full length album With Friends Like These…. I find myself stumped at trying to find a clever introduction paragraph. To help, I looked back at the review I did of their self titled EP back in early 2014 (you can read that review here) and I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that for that review I also couldn’t come up with a good introduction paragraph. It’s nothing personal towards the band but more so the coincidence that for both times I guess I kind of burned my whit out. But as I said, this is a review for With Friends Like These…., so just how well so Social Strife sound on a full length album?
Well not bad, considering half of With Friends Like These…. is made up of the entire Social Strife EP, which I gave a favourable review to. If you didn’t read that review, all five songs are strong hard rock songs with some punk attitude cached in. In a nutshell, the self titled track Social Strife has a punk-like rhythm that reminds me of a Teenage Head song. M.D.M.A. and Aliens and Freaks are both slower and very melodic songs, the latter being the softest of the five EP songs as well as the most heavy hearted, while M.D.M.A. is perhaps the catchiest of all five tracks.
Reign is an intense track with signs of some thrash metal influence thanks to the fierce double bass drum kicking. You Were Nothing ends With Friends Like These…. (not counting the hidden track Chasing) which is interesting because it started off the Social Strife EP. It hits like a ton of bricks thanks to its punk influenced drum and bass rhythm and makes for as good an album closer as it did for an EP opener.
The newer tracks Social Strife have provided on With Friends Like These…. only continue where the EP left off. Starting with Denied which isn’t dissimilar to the hard rocking tracks Social Strife have already made me familiar with, except the punk sound is kind of shaved off to make way for a more traditional rock sound. I also like the guitar solo quite a bit.
Blind has an intensity to it that I haven’t heard thus far from the band, and I love it, while I Don’t Care is a slow track but with more attitude that practically any other song on With Friends Like These….. Interestingly enough, it’s the hidden track Chasing that I prefer over all of the other newer tracks, as well as over most of the songs from the Social Strife EP. I just find it to be one of the most catchy songs, both melodically and lyrically.
Two of the newer tracks on With Friends Like These…. are slower songs, giving the album a total of about four slower songs. Wish I Could Be closely resembles a ballad, kind of like Aliens and Freaks in how melodic and soft it is. It also has a great guitar solo, which is a trend on most of these songs. The River isn’t so much a ballad as it is just a well written rock song, with some folk rock influence mixed with some hair metal influence, making for an interesting combination that I wouldn’t have expected from Social Strife.
With Friends Like These…. is a great expansion on the Social Strife EP that I reviewed over a year ago. The style of these songs is familiar, but the songs are still great to listen to. I don’t know to credit it to intelligent song writing or just Social Strife’s influences being in the right place, but they sure know how to make a hook that can stay in my head, and that really helps me continue to rate Social Strife high among the local Toronto area bands that I’ve listened to.
Thanks for reading!
“M.D.M.A.” – The main reason I pick this song is not because it best represents the album as a whole, though it doesn’t do a bad job of doing that, but mostly because every time I’ve thought about Social Strife in the year and a half since I reviewed their EP, this has been the song that would immediately play in my head, because it’s that catchy, and since it was rereleased on With Friends Like Theses…. I’ll take this as my chance to highlight it.
8 (Out of 10)
1 Denied 3:50
2 Social Strife 3:10
3 M.D.M.A 4:07
4 Blind 3:22
5 Aliens And Freaks 4:16
6 Wish I Could Be 3:47
7 The River 5:38
8 I Don’t Care 3:18
9 Reign 4:04
10 You Were Nothing 4:00
11 Chasing 4:29