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Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit

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Album Review

Renown for their assaultive sonics, Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit finds Good Riddance huddling ever closer to the melodic punk sound they've been moving towards over the few preceding years. While the arrival of new drummer Dave Wagenschutz, with his varied rhythms and adept tempo changes, helps bolster the band's confidence to pursue new musical directions, Symptoms is Good Riddance's most eclectic to date. Of course, it's still a punk album, but the group now run the full gamut of subgenres, from speedcore to melodic punk and everything in between. "Year of the Rat," for example, starts slow enough to qualify as a hard rock ballad (bring your own lighter), before metamorphing into a solid punk rocker. "Libertine" boasts even more tempo changes, skittering in and out of speedcore, while a Stiff Little Fingeresque guitar jangles around the edges. There's still enough pummeling hardcore to keep fans sated, however, or in the case of "Nobody Likes a Cynic," a perfect hybrid of hardcore and hard rock to make all headbangers happy. But, in general, Symptoms is awash in melodic punk; from the opening number to the closing alt-punk hidden track, Good Riddance reels out a barrage of hummable songs and hooky choruses. In fact, "Yesterday's Headlines"' melody is a definite nod to new wave, dragged into the new school, needless to say. "Cheyenne" is equally poppy, albeit in a more minor key. However, the increased tunefulness takes none of the bite out of Good Riddance's lyrics. And whether attacking individual imperfections or greater societal ills, the group's songwriting remains savagely on point. Always threatening greatness, the group have now produced a true classic.


Formed: 1986 in Santa Cruz, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Good Riddance is a straight-edge hardcore punk band from Santa Cruz, CA. Led by vocalist Russ Rankin, the band's longtime lineup included guitarist Luke Pabich, bassist Chuck Platt, and drummer Sean "SC" Sellers. Although it was formed in 1986 by ex-Fury 66 member Rankin as a voice for his political frustrations and protests, the band did not gel until Pabich's arrival. In 1990, they released their first 7", Gidget, on Little Deputy Records. Good Riddance was eventually discovered by NOFX bassist...
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Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit, Good Riddance
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