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End of an Era - "End of an Era"

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9 out of 10

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What do you call a band that makes you stress over every word you try to write about it, because no adjective or noun adequately expresses how its music stirs you? A pretty frigging good one, that's what. Rarely does an act come along that makes you think you should shuck any attempt at impartiality - but when it does, what's the sense in holding back the praise?

Enter End of an Era, the self-released album by the Toms River, N.J., band of the same name. The quintet wins this flattery for three reasons: It's brilliant, it's consistently brilliant, and it replicates said brilliant when it performs live. It already made its talent clear with 2005 debut Mission Statement, but the act's imagination and craftsmanship have since matured into a more polished style with this new collection, which contains a few rerecorded tracks from previous albums (see Articles).

What does End of an Era sound like? Like AFI's "The Missing Frame" was riding an electronica train that collided with a Flock of Seagull's "Wishing" while en route to a Nine Inch Nails concert. Or at least, go-to track "Wait for You" does. Any person whose heart is perpetually shredded by another's absence will listen to it long after the anti-depressants kick in. The rest of us can love it simply for the phenomena of what it is: an incredible testament of accepting how the heart won't let go when the head insists that it should.

This mixing of unlikely styles makes End of an Era appeal to fans of many genres. "Reclamation" launches the album with a looming, industrial crunch that builds into a chiming head-slammer, and from there it's full speed ahead. A rippling piano introduces "Final Approach" before the song jumps off to another AFI-influenced rocker, and a pure dance vibe is dressed up with synth fuzz and rock beats on "Freak Show," a chuckle about girls who can't tell when the party's over. "Era" also ponders weightier issues: The downtempo "2002: A Space Tragedy" contemplates the struggle to function when your ego's defenses are destroyed, and dramatic album closer "End All" demands that you consider the impact of your life's choices now, not after your best years have slipped away.

So, start making wise decisions now. Buy this album. Listen to it often. Convince everyone else you know to do the same. End of an Era is everything you could want in an original band: talent, brains, balls and heart. Help it make its reign last and expand to the West Coast, and beyond.

Track Listing:

01. Reclamation
02. No Tomorrow
03. The Good, The Bad & The Better
04. Wait For You
05. The Walking Dead
06. 2002: A Space Tragedy
07. Chaos Theory
08. Freak Show
09. Final Approach
10. Be All
11. End All

Run Time: 40:96
Release Date: 02.26.2011
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