By Johhny Fleury
There used to be just one word needed to describe a Shihad album - ROCK! On this, the band's fifth album (the first as Pacifier), a dramatic quality replaces the rumbling menace of earlier recordings. I choose to skip over opener Comfort Me (cos I think it's awful) and start with Semi-Normal. Jon Toogood barking "I'm not fucking alright!" sparks with me much more than his plea for comfort. Run, has a melodic flow and cinematic feel and as with many of the songs, has an uplifting, empowering quality without being overly melodramatic. Producer Josh Abraham brings a brightness to the album accentuated by Toogood's vocals being unusually prominent and decipherable. It makes his voice the main instrument on here, backed by the solid musicianship and big sound the band is known for. Stranger recalls Aussie rockers Powderfinger in its grandness rather than anything American, and while I'm in comparison mode, the acoustic tracks - particularly the guitar intros - conjure up the ghost of Weta. Album closer Coming Down (co-written with Scott Weiland) again fails to convince me. The stand out track is the thumping Trademark, opening with the sneer "I bored myself today". Why this wasn't the first single I do not know. 'Pacifier' adds a new element to the band's catalogue. For those who wish everything they did sounded like 'Killjoy' there's an easy solution - listen to 'Killjoy'. Just because you have a shiny new toy doesn't mean you love your ratty-tatty old teddy any less.