RCA Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It was bound to happen, I guess. Some band was going to clone the formula used by Linkin Park.

I have yet to warm up to the concept of merging pseudo-rapped verses with harmonized choruses - and I recognize that Linkin Park does about as much singing as there is pseudo-rapping. Now, from the depths of Canada rises Headstrong, whose self-titled debut album (scheduled for release in February) tries to capitalize on that formula with more than a touch of Rage Against The Machine thrown in. (I'm working from an advance, "radio-friendly" version of the disc for this review.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Musically, Headstrong is a tight unit who are able to pound out a very solid melody which is catchy. However, vocalist Kinna possibly does this band the greatest disservice by insisting on the constant raps - a shame, really, since the harmonization is excellent. Listen to the first track (and song which launched the group on FarmClub) "All Of The Above," and discover the absolute power of the sung choruses. Admittedly, this track is a powerhouse, and rightfully won the group a load of fans - but it gets repetitive far too quickly on this disc.

I'm not suggesting that Headstrong is a bad disc. Indeed, far from it. There are moments on this disc which make me curious to see how far the group will go, as on "Swing Harder" and "Open Season". But Headstrong isn't able to keep the momentum going as long as they'd like to, and a good reason this is so is because the spoken-word vocals just don't pack the same kind of power as even some of Headstrong's contemporaries, like Rage Against The Machine. Tracks like "Adriana" and "Hoodies And Hoods" sometimes feel like they're trying to hold up the burden of living up to Headstrong's early hype, a burden which is proving to be almost Herculean in size.

I'm also not suggesting that the pseudo-raps be banished in the future. I will, however, suggest that Headstrong not rely on them as heavily as they do. Sometimes, a message can be delivered with an even sharper edge if the message is wrapped in a powerful harmony. In Headstrong's case, it's something worth trying.

Fans of Linkin Park and Rage Against The Machine will undoubtedly be drawn to Headstrong, though after a while, the listener might get the feeling that they've heard this all before. It's worth hearing, but I don't think this disc has the power it could have had - and that's what would keep people listening to it again and again.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.