Release Date: October 28, 2003
Reviewed by Scott Olivenbaum
40 Below Summer made a name for themselves in the New York/New Jersey area ever since they formed at the turn of the century. After the release of their debut album in 2001, 40 Below’s fan base deservedly grew beyond the metro area. As a nu metal band amid the oversaturation of the genre by the major labels, 40 Below Summer had to be better than the norm and they were.
To further distance themselves from the pack, they have evolved as a band in the two years since Invitation To The Dance hit. The quintet injected even more melodies and breakdowns into the songs while cutting down on the rapped vocals. Instead, frontman Max Illidge (who was also the little boy in the Talking Heads “Burning Down The House” video back in the day) explores the depths of his voice. While his growling and anxious yelling is still there, Illidge actually sings on most of the tracks – almost to the point of crooning during “Awakening”.
Cristian Machado, the dreadlocked lead singer of Ill Nino, guests on “F.E.”. Sadly it is one of the worse tracks on the album. It is a one dimensional, ‘nu metal’ song that doesn’t see the two vocalists combining their vocal powers in other way than yelling.
Sadly there isn’t much of an evolution in the other aspects of their music, but that is pretty forgivable. Jordan Plingos’ and Joe D’Amico’s guitars often keep to the same lines, just adding power to the melodies or charging along during choruses. Bassist Hector Graziani remains in the background, lending support to the guitars or to Carlos Aguilar’s drums. The main focus is purely upon Illidge and the evolution of his vocals. “Breathless” showcases his new energy and emotion and is easily the best song on the sophomore release.
Illidge ends “A season in hell”, the ‘last’ song on the album (before the bonus track) with a whispered lyric – “can you feel the end?” The Mourning After shows that the end should be far away for 40 Below Summer.