Say Anything is a band that for years has been chronicling the life and times of singer/songwriter Max Bemisís life. Through numerous stints in mental hospitals, drug fueled mental breakdowns, and a string of band memberís coming and going; itís safe to say thereís a lot of content to still cover in his music. Hebrews more than any previous album feels like Maxís album more than Say Anythingís. You feel Bemisís pain and personal issues stronger than you feel a full band coming together to write the album, which I believe is what makes the record so spectacular.
What adds to this close personal sentimentality is the bold and almost baffling decision to not use any guitars on the record and instead replace them with a full string orchestra. When I first heard this was the direction of the album I almost wrote it off entirely, after all, Say Anything has always been defined by fast adaptable guitar playing which ripped through each song and complimented Bemisís angry bitter voice.
So how is it possible for them to survive without the iconic riffs that mixed so brilliantly with the complexity of the bandís lyrics? Well simply put, with some of Bemisís most personal lyrics and a vocal performance that can only be described as ďlung crushingĒ. While I like the bandís last offering, Anarchy My Dear more than most, even I can admit the vocals seemed a bit forced except for a few excellent exceptions. This isnít even close to the case this time around, from Bemisís loud pathetic delivery of Iím wasted away! in the opening track John Mcclane to the sad somber self ridiculing nature of the penultimate track ďLost My TouchĒ; Max has never felt more in tune with his own music. This mixed with catchy riffs played raucously by a full orchestra as well as the bandís signature drumming and synth riffs makes for the most instantly memorable Say Anything tracks ever.
But hey, whatís a Say Anything album without incredibly personal and relatable lyrics right? Well believe me when I say Hebrews has you covered and then some. The album combines similar themes that you can expect from Say Anything as well as new themes such as Bemisís fallout with critical fans, his newfound parenthood as well as an even increased emphasis on his Jewish up-bring. The title tracks as well as the first single Six Six Six heavily speak of Bemisís struggles with spirituality and self-hatred as they have developed and influenced him over the years.
And then thereís songs like Call me Kubrick and My Greatest Fear is Splendid which explore Bemisís past with depression and drug dependencies as well as a great fear of relapsing and losing everything heís gained in the past years. Probably the strongest and most bitter theme is Bemisís fallout with fans critical of his previous album and lack of support to his healthier and happier persona. Possibly the strongest track on the album is Judas Decapitation which has Bemis take the place of his critics and ridicules his life and his past recordings with a bitter delivery of ďBe 19 with a joint in hand, never change the band, never ever be a dot dot dot real manĒ. This same theme is explored in the bitter piano driven narrative of Lost My Touch in which he somberly expresses fear and regret that he may have lost his musical abilities and pain that has fueled his previous recordings. The album is not all doom and gloom however as the tracks A Look and The Shape of Love to Come express his happiness and joy with his wife Sherri DuPree Bemis and newly born daughter Lucy who have made him a stronger and better man.
While it does feel like Max Bemisís album heís certainly not alone on this one, in fact heís brought his own dream team of independent artists to join him on this musical adventure and add to the brilliant music he has composed. This long list of artists includes Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids, Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, Brian Sella of the Front Bottoms, Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou, Jeremy Bolm of Touchť Amore, and Tom DeLonge of blink-182. Of course wife Sherri and her numerous bandmates/siblings from Eisley are on deck as well as best friend Chris Conely from Saves the Day. All these artists may seem like a strange choice as they encapsulate so many different genres, but so many bring an added element to the music that almost makes the record seem genre-less. If I had to give it a title my best guess would be orchestral punk and it sounds about as weird as it will be upon first listen but man is it perfect.
In the end, Hebrews is an album that shouldnít work, it just shouldnít. While Say Anything is possiblely my favorite band, I was not expecting Hebrews to work, but now it may be my favorite album by them. This album is personal, memorable and catchy, beautifully crafted, and just downright perfect. Itís a masterpiece that needed so many years of Max Bemisís life to finally come to life, but now that it has itís a modern masterpiece.
Say Anything's Hebrews is personal, memorable and catchy, beautifully crafted, and just downright perfect.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]