Snakes & Ladders starts off with "Thru Veins", building until finally Jeff's signature vocals take over. As the listener is being bludgeoned, something that really stands out is the drumming. It grows more breakneck paced as the track progresses, but never does it seem overwhelming. "Bleeding Out" reminds me of LEFT FOR DEAD, combining the right amount of metal and hardcore. The lyrics paint a bleak and unforgiving picture. There's no poetry, but sheer frustration that's in your face - for example "Picture your life as a knife fight and you just got stabbed in the guts."
"This Is Not A Test" takes a hold of the listener and doesn't let go for the full eighty seconds. Tackling the subject of annihilation - like they did on Let Me Show You How Democracy Works - again the lyrics stand out. Coupled with the savage speed, "This Is Not A Test" is relentless. "Throne Of Privilege" deals with another subject often found in PYS (And HAYMAKER for that matter), the poor and the rich. PYS tackles the subject without coming off as preachy, but completely pissed off.
"But Wait!!!" has a much slower feel with an almost sludgy feel (Bringing to mind "Ham Sandwich" off the debut LP). The vocals are tortured, adding an interesting dynamic into the music. Whilst it doesn't reinvent the genre, "But Wait!!!" is a track that surprised me on first listen. That being said, the track that follows definitely was the biggest surprise.
Usually when you see a cover song, it's something stylistically similar. PYS switches things up and goes in the opposite direction choosing Neil Young. "Don't Cry" is seven-minutes of repetitious slow grind and thematically ties very well with the previous track "But Wait!!!" Needless to say it's a very interesting choice and shows that whilst their bread and butter may be hardcore, PICK YOUR SIDE isn't afraid to step outside the box and show us something strange.
The final track comes in the form of "Snakes And Ladders", which was originally on a compilation put out by Schizophrenic Records. Bringing back the speed from the earlier tracks, "Snakes And Ladders" is a ripper. This is a bonus track on the accompanying flexi, which was a very cool idea.
PICK YOUR SIDE has a handful of records in the works including splits with BLIND TO FAITH(!!!) and TO THE POINT as well as possibly working on a follow up to last year's full-length. Favorite band is something that gets tossed around too often, but without a doubt PICK YOUR SIDE is without a doubt one of my favorite bands going and I cannot wait for new material.
Snakes & Ladders is still available from RSR and if you live in the States, A389 did have copies left over from the weekend bash. PICK YOUR SIDE also has the record up on their bandcamp page if you'd like to listen to it before purchasing.