- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
A lot of young guys start a band in the hopes of taking the stage and sharing their music and message with those outside their hometown. For some it's just a hobby, but for others it's a career path they feel called to. The three members of Side Walk Slam were hopeful of playing music on a fulltime basis throughout their high school years. They began as a cover band that highlighted MXPX and Squad 5-0 songs, but incorporated original songs into their sets when Marcuss Hall began writing songs. His honest accounts of teenage life added to the band's raw but developing sound and gave Side Walk Slam an instant fan base of peers. As the group tightened up and began playing to larger audiences, they caught the interest of Tooth and Nail Records, a label they'd always dreamt of signing to. This year that dream became a reality as 21-year-old Hall, along with 20-year-old drummer Matthew Jackson and 20-year-old bassist David Curtis, entered The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado, to record their Tooth and Nail debut, Past Remains.
Whether or not you're a fan of the punk rock genre, Past Remains gives listeners more than just three power chords mixed in with some aggressive vocals. It's evident the guys are passionate about sharing their personal experiences and the process of giving their lives over to God one day at a time. One topic many can relate to is Hall's struggle with the state of singleness on "Yesterday's Actions, Today's Regrets." The track is an honest account of someone wrestling with the idea of premarital sex, but reaches the conclusion that purity must override passion. "Holy Matrimony" addresses what it's like to get married and the need to stick it out through thick and thin. Additional depth comes on the quick interlude "Another Day," which describes the confusion a seeker may go through while contemplating whether or not to embrace the faith.
Musically, the group blazes a trail of sheer energy on "Eve," as well as on the Green Day-sounding "No Need to Apologize." "Gone with the Wind" will clearly be a mosh pit starter during live performances thanks to its gritty distortion and booming drum patterns. The most intricate tune on the disc is "Everyday," which starts out with a minute's worth of building instrumental momentum. After the ripping introduction, Hall kicks in with a sense of melodic passion to make the song stand out as the band's praise staple. Although "Everyday" is the disc's official closer, the group returns for an untitled hidden track, which is acoustic in nature and bears similarity to the material found on Hangnail's recent unplugged release.
Side Walk Slam certainly knows how to play their instruments, and they've nailed the punk-rock genre down to a science. However, there are times when they seem like merely the latest Xerox copy of MXPX, Slick Shoes, or The Dingees. Although it would have been nice to see a bit more originality on this project, at least Side Walk Slam is an additional band that can perpetuate hearty messages to combat mainstream counterparts like Blink 182 and Sum 41.