Pennywise- All or Nothing
At the risk of losing #punkpoints with this one, I gotta say I’ve got a special spot for Pennywise, as they were one of the first bands I got into when I first started playing guitar. That was 1999, fast forward to 2012…Pennywise is still truckin’ and their 10th studio album marks their first with new singer, Zoli Teglas. Now Zoli is no stranger to “vocals for hire” positions: he had a short stint with the Misfits in the early 2000’s and rumor has it that he even turned down a chance to sing for Guns ‘n Roses- true or not it’s worth a chuckle or two. Anyway, a new Pennywise album and a new singer for a band who really hasn’t moved me since 1999’s “Straight Ahead” the follow up to their powerhouse and most meaningful album “Full Circle…” Has Pennywise come full circle again? Not quite, but I admire their refusal to quit and they actually come pretty close.
As a longtime fan of Zoli’s band Ignite I was very curious to hear this album, to say the least. Here’s the thing, though, while he doesn’t sound bad at all- Zoli only really sounds like Zoli during certain parts of this album: he’s less operatic than how he sings in Ignite and Zoli Band, but more appropriate for Pennywise. For some of of the time, I hate to say it, but he sorta sounds like that dude from Sum 41.
I’ve always embraced Zoli’s ability to deliver meaningful lyrics that are specific. On “All or Nothing” however, we have a bunch of strung together cliches with an overabundance of WOAH, OH OHS, which kinda got stale for me a few years back- they’re catchy none the less. While the lyrics seem kind of lazy, they will definitely have you singing along.
That aside, catchy songs with infectious melodies ready to infiltrate your mind (even if they are below Zoli’s operatic range) invade the album. “All or Nothing” offers no new classics like “Peaceful Day,” “Living for Today,” or “Every Single Day”, but you can definitely commend their effort with the call-to-arms choruses that reign throughout the album. “Waste Another Day” comes closest; it is another Pennywise “day” song, afterall .
Pennywise’s rhythm section stands out as the strongest point of “All or Nothing” with gritty/punchy bass and relentless/tasteful drumming. There’s not much else to say about this one. Zoli’s on the map and I hope it is not their last album with him. Definitely check it out of you are or ever were a fan of Ignite or Pennywise. Oh, and thanks for teaching me how to palm mute, Fletcher!
UDATE: After listening to this for a few days, I must say it is the best album they’ve put out since “Straight Ahead.” If they get back to their regular pattern, we should see another Zoli-fronted album in two years. I wonder what that means for Ignite? “Our Darkest Days,” was great.