Red Animal War Black Phantom Crusades

Black Phantom Crusades is a huge step forward for Red Animal War. Their previous releases have always felt fairly uninspired and generic, and while they haven’t totally rid themselves of that blandness, this is a glimmer of hope for where the band is headed. Crisply produced and strongly played, the record is actually a fairly intense listen. Admittedly, only about half of the songs really catch fire, with a few Jawbox-tinged rock numbers naturally showing up the songs with a pop-punk soft spot. Lead vocalist Justin Wilson sings a whole lot like Page Hamilton, but whereas the Helmet singer’s shouting was sometimes too abrasive to really enjoy, Wilson tears at his vocal chords without wearing the listener’s tolerance thin. This isn’t a record that I can say I won’t forget about when it’s put away, but it’s good enough that it may make it into the player if ever I stumble across it again.