Rise Records, you need to stop signing so many bands at once. At this point in time, according to their Wikipedia page, they have 30 bands signed to their label. Because of this, it is really difficult to keep track of some bands, especially the ones who are pushed to the back of the catalog due to scene bands taking all the exposure. This explains why My Ticket Home’s newest album, Strangers Only, will be released in September a bit under the radar, so to speak. Columbus, Ohio’s quartet of band-proclaimed “Puke Rock” has been on Rise for quite some time now, and this will be their third release on the label. That being said, after their last release, To Create a Cure – though a rather bland generic post-hardcore release – charted on the Billboard Heatseekers when it came out, so this band should have a bit of hype behind them. Now, with Strangers Only, they can try and prove themselves once again.
Within the first 30 seconds of the first track, “Spit Not Chewed,” my mind was already going through the laundry list of nu-metal bands that this sounds like – most notably early Slipknot and Mudvayne. It’s almost funny just how close it sounds. The song maintains the riff throughout, the screams well delivered yet monotone, making the song drag a bit. The next song, “Painfully Bored,” also has that same nu-metal feel with the guitars, yet it speeds it up a bit, almost feeling like a hardcore punk song minus the guitars. I can actually thank the singer and drummer for doing a great job of making the song feel different because the guitars surely didn’t do that job well. The third track, single “Hot Soap,” finally brings some clean vocals into the fray for a chorus that feels rather Slipknot-esque, yet still feels a bit fresh compared to the first two tracks.
With track number four, “Teenage Cremation,” we’re back with a more fast-paced, yet still nu-metal sound that – like “Painfully Bored” – tries to give a bit of a hardcore punk edge. Actually, the song shares very similar structure in the guitars, and the chorus just goes back to a riff that feels rather recycled throughout this whole album; low chords with one harmonic note in an attempt to make it sound different, yet it’s done so frequently on the record that it begins to feel played out halfway through this song is even finished.
As much as I feel I shouldn’t, I can safely skip the next few songs, just because they are almost exactly the same as the last four covered. The album doesn’t change the sound introduced once until track seven, “Head Change.” Though the chorus does have that same feel, the verses take it a bit softer, done in TrustCompany-styled bouts of held back aggression with palm-muted guitars backing it up, building up to the chorus in a fashion also relatively played out. I was able to appreciate some of the clean vocals performed because they were a welcome break from the screams which maintained a consistent singular tone throughout the whole record – which made them rather boring as a whole. My Ticket Home is both giving me something new and leaving me longing for more, a feeling that their last release also had.
As good as it is to see that this band is branching out a bit, Strangers Only leaves me with a relatively bittersweet feeling. I might be able to appreciate it better if it were to be released as an EP, leaving out songs like “Foul Stench of Youth” and “You All Know Better than Me,” which do little to progress the album aside from the fact that they are just there. As an EP, this would have felt more like what it was intended to be: a punch in the face to those listening. If you enjoyed the singles, then you will enjoy the whole album; at the same time, that’s the problem. The whole album is the same, and that is what’s dragging it down the most.
For Fans Of: Slipknot, Mudvayne, Five Finger Death Punch.