Punk rock veterans, Lagwagon, had been missing from the scene for quite some time. Sure, they had a tour here and there as well as reissues of their 90s classics, but it's been years since we've heard some fresh new music from the band. They released an EP in 2008, but most of that material had previously already been featured on Joey Cape's solo album, Bridge. It's no doubt fans were anxious for a new record and curious to hear what the new bassist, Joe Raposo, could bring to the table now that longtime bassist, Jesse Buglione, had left. Lagwagon's first record in 9 years, Hang, delivers something new from the band as well as touches on the old.
At first, you would think you were just listening to another Joey Cape solo effort when the record kicks off with "Burden of Proof," but then the blistering pace we've come to know and love about Lagwagon bursts from your speakers as you're lead into "Reign." It's exactly the reassurance fans needed to know that Lagwagon have still got it. From here, the album moves towards the heavier sound they've dabbled in with previous records. "The Cog in the Machine" was described by Cape as the current groups most collaborative work and it's interesting to hear the band was leaning more towards a heavy metal tune. For anyone turned off by it, "Poison in the Well" will ease your dissent.
Joe Raposo finally gets to really make his mark with his opening bass line on "Obsolete Absolute." The 6 minute long track is riddled with tempo changes throughout it's overarching dark tone and a simple, but melodic, solo. The band comes back to the heavier rock sound on, "Western Settlement," before a more pop-punk venture with, "Burning Out in Style." It feels more like a solo Joey Cape song that has been "Lagwagon-ized" which is not a complaint at all. It's catchy and a personal favorite of mine off the record.
Cape gets a little sentimental with a eulogy of sorts for the late Tony Sly on "One More Song." "Obsolete Absolute" is considered to be the "epic" of the record, but "One More Song" fits that bill so much more. It does everything that the former does, but so much better. It feels like a wild ride from the opening piano piece, to a fun romp in the middle of the track, to the passionate climax. Following is "Drag," which was previously heard on Cape's last solo record. Lagwagon took the song and put a darker spin on it. It also now features a kick-ass Iron Maiden-esque solo. The band takes the tempo down a bit with "You Know Me" before the upbeat closer, "In Your Wake." It does a decent job of closing the album with its 4-part medley feel.
Lagwagon are back and show no signs of slowing down. Over 2 decades and they've still got what it takes to pump out the jams. Raposo is a worthy addition to the band and helps Hang feel like something fresh from the band, while still being rooted in the sound they've cultivated throughout their career. Pick it up and get excited for more Lagwagon!
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