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In Love and Death - The Instrumentals

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Album Review

By 2004 it was getting a little difficult to tell groups like AFI, My Chemical Romance, Thrice, or the Used apart. All mixed the energy of punk, emo-derived passion, and metal sensibilities into a well-played, expensively-produced package. But the end product often ended up sounding a little similar. Though its heart is eventually lost amidst the guiding elements of the genre, the Used's In Love and Death does make some impressive moves away from those very same tenets, showing some welcome restraint and even some rocktastic energy. "I Caught Fire" is irresistible, because it uses its big-budget filters and six-string layers as an advantage, building tension for the song's triumphant chorus release. "Take It Away" sees the inherent, timeless power of a solid riff, and actually revitalizes the ridiculously played-out singing guy/screaming guy dynamic that so many groups in this scene faithfully rely on. "Cut Up Angels", too, is a nice departure, offering fans a modified pop gem that lightens the album's mood considerably. Unfortunately, it still sticks to formula. There are the overwrought string and piano sections, impassioned lyrics, dense arrangements of metal chording and tortured screaming. These sounds have their place, no question. But if all that depression and heartbreak begins to bleed into the diary of the next guy over, it becomes less unique. Still, The Used have made some strides with In Love and Death toward a fuller sound. and it'll be interesting to see what their next move is. [The album was re-released in 2005 with the addition of a bonus track; the group's collaboration with My Chemical Romance on a version of the Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure".]

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Orem, UT

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The members of the Used had to overcome poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse, not to mention the straitlaced attitudes of their hometown of Orem, Utah, to bring their screamo-tinged brand of post-hardcore to life. But they persevered and earned a contract with Reprise Records, releasing their self-titled debut album in June 2002. Having only played a handful of shows around Orem prior to their record's release, the band -- vocalist Bert McCracken, guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard,...
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