Monday, 4 August 2014

Review: Sci-Fried's 'Season V'


Here it is. Season V. Will it be as good as the previous releases? Or will it fall to the season five curse of most shows?


Season V is the 5th album from Sci-Fried and celebrates the five years the band have been together.

When Sci-Fried announced the album name I honestly feared that maybe I wouldn't like this album as much as I love their other works.  I've been a huge Sci-Fried supporter for over 5 years now and I really desperately wanted this to be the best album yet. I've been waiting [almost] patiently. They promised me it was going to be killer.  And Sci-Fried kept their promise. Can you say HOLY SHTAKO BATMAN! True to form, the boys are back with another fantastic album packed with nerd love.

There's just something about the title 'Season V' that came across as ominous. It brings to mind all those shows I've loved (Buffy, Warehouse 13, Babylon 5, Angel, Charmed to name a few) that got to season five where not what I'd hoped for and felt dissapointed in. Should have counted on these guys to instantly talk about that with album opener Season V, a song about the fate of tv shows around the 5 year mark. A clever, upbeat number and one of the less serious songs, its full of references to all the changes a show can undertake and the things that may go wrong for fans including recasting, bad CGI or how it can really just go off the rails and calls to memory at least 20 different shows I've seen all these things happen to.

The album starts off strong and keeps packing a punch with Lord of the Rings track 'If I Only Had A Horse', the tale of being one of the hobbits in the trilogy.

One thing I really did love about this album was the more personal approach they took to their superhero tracks. 'Man In A Can' about Iron Man, 'Arrow' about Green Arrow and 'Hulk Smash' about the Hulk look more at the struggles these superheroes deal with and what they want to overcome rather than being anthems for how super and amazing they are. I really like the direction taken with these and Dobbs, Chuck and Jim did amazing work with the music. They've slowed down, really put themselves into the roles and produced music that really speaks to the listener.

'Left Behind' is the highlight of the album for me and my most favourite Sci-Fried song so far. Its absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. A tale of lost love. I absolutely went nuts for this song the first time I heard it. Chuck really sounds like he's poured his soul into the guitar part on this track. It really serves to back up the emotions expressed in the lyrics and Vern's voice just sells it all so well. One of the best songs these guys have ever written.

'Undead Apocalypse' is a really welcome break from all the Walking Dead reference heavy zombie songs I've heard lately. I really love this track. It has one of my favourite bridges. Its fun to sing a long to and after 'Left Behind' has to be my favourite song on the album. I really love Dobbs bassline on this track and how Chuck follows his lead. Also happens to be one of my favourite performances from Jim too. His drumming on this track is outstanding.

'Suit Up' I hope is going to be the new live anthem for these guys. A great tribute to cosplay. I think this one is going to go down particularly well at conventions!

'Superhuman' is quite possibly my favourite KSV track to date. Its a really beautiful song and one I think every nerd can relate to, the desire to be a superhero. I love the direction taken here too. The strive to be something better. Its not about getting cool powers, its about wanting to be someone.

'Empire Kicks Back' is a fun Star Wars track about the funside of the Empire. I really love the music to this song, its grooves nicely and KSV's rap style adds a lot of fun too. Great addition to their Star Wars catalogue.

Its really nice to have a happy Firefly song. 'Blue Morning Sun' is different stylistically to anything I think I've heard from the guys before but I think the more jangly guitar style and harmonica are just what it needed. The music sounds inspired by the show and the lyrics celebrate the outlook the crew always had towards life. Its a positive outlook and feels like adventure to me. I listen to it and think of good times ahead.

'Self-Aware' is about as apocalyptic as it gets. A song about how Skynet may come to be. Another one I think thats going to be a hit at shows and conventions.

The song I feel most will see as the weak link and even give criticism over is 'Origins', the last original song on the album before the bonus cover song. I really love this song. Its cheesy with a funked up flavoured. I honestly about fell over laughing at this. It truly makes me smile. It may be totally tongue-in-cheek but having known the band for so long its nice to listen to this and smile as they talk about themselves. And Dobbs bringing some Bee Gees in just couldn't have been better. Its not going to go down as one of the best songs ever written but its a lovely piece of fun, nice way of getting to know maybe some of the members you don't hear about as much cause Vern and KSV do all the talking on stage and its a nice way to round out this more personal album.

Sci-Fried's cover of Blue Oyster Cults 'Godzilla' ends the album and boy do they make that song their own. It really rocks and with an added KSV twist on the last verse there is no mistaking that these guys are the finest at what they do and its a lovely way to finish Season V.

Co-Op Mode introduced a more rounded out sound with Dobbs joining the band and with this being the first album to only be written by the members of Sci-Fried (Co-Op Mode was a collaboration album) I'm happy to hear that the sound is still full and the music is still lively and energetic and well thought out.  These guys have been writing amazing tracks for years and I hate to take anything away from albums before this or Co-Op Mode but Dobbs was like the missing ingredient that really bought something special to the music.

This is definitely most personal album so far. They've worked in a lot of their own personal experience and found ways to relate to their subject matter which really comes across in songs like 'Arrow' and 'Left Behind'. This album is a lot less about filling the lyrics up with quotes and reference after reference but really exploring what and why we relate to something, how we apply our own experiences to the situations talked about in these songs. They've taken franchises and made them more human, in a way. I love the 'quote-happy' songs but I do enjoy this direction they've taken and hope the band will continue to balance these out quite a bit more in the future. In the past there have been one or two weaker songs on each album but on the whole Season V is a solid album.

As ever, KSV and Vern just sound phenominal. KSV's singing voice is perhaps the best its been and its nice to see him doing a little more singing as well as his quick fire rap style on this album. Vern, what can I say about his voice that I haven't said before? Just sit back and bask in the wonderful sound. There are some fantastic drum beats in this album from Jim, Dobbs lays down some of the best bass parts on a Sci-Fried album so far and Chuck has some truly beautiful moments on guitar. This is definitely one of the best bodies of work they've produced so far. Their songwriting is at the best its ever been and they're really thought through the best ways to support what they want to do with each song and have it come through in the music and in the lyrics.

Its lovely to see how far this band has come in five years. A few line-up changes but I think they are the band they were meant to be now and I forsee things only getting better. Chuck has become a fantastic guitarist, KSV and Vern have become great frontmen, Jim excels at just about everything he does and Dobbs adds that special element whether he's playing bass or supporting Chuck on guitar.

Good luck with the future boys! You know I'll be there to cheer you on.


Season V is available for pre-order at www.sci-fried.com and is out August 15th!
Catch Sci-Fried this weekend at Orlando NerdFest and at Dragon Con at the end of the month
Season V can also be heard exclusively on Nerdy.fm or at www.soundcloud.com/scifriedband