With their catchy guitars and Rock radio friendly sound, Montreal’s SPECIAL OPS are aiming squarely for mainstream appeal although they’re still not afraid to experiment with some heavier moments every now and then. The bands style could be best described as post-Grunge Rock as you may hear everything from COLLECTIVE SOUL to NICKELBACK, and even SYSTEM OF A DOWN among others reflected in the groups musical style on their second full length album, “Phase 2: Amidst The Madness”.
Lead off track, “Anger Is Creeping”, is a catchy groove rocker with an appealing chorus supported by the sludgy playing of guitarist Akbar Johnson. Showing us they’re not oblivious to modern forms of Metal, they surprisingly even use a few Death growls to add a darker feel to the next track, “Better Off”, which otherwise has a quirkier but still heavy Grunge influenced sound. Singer Abe Froman along with Akbar both give the bands songs a wide variety of vocals that range from standard Rock to even psuedo-rapping. Highlights from the album would include the previously mentioned “Better Off”, as well as the symphonic and catchy “Feel For You”. The song “Here I Go” is also notable for effectively experimenting with Middle Eastern melodies very nicely played on the guitar.
Overall, although I didn’t care much for the rapped vocals and found some of the music to be a bit dated in style, I figure the majority of the people who listen to mainstream Rock such as this won’t know or care any different and might enjoy it. The production quality is certainly professional, giving them a chance to possibly even get a little radio airplay. Still, I can only hope their next effort is a little more in touch with today’s heavier music, rather than seemingly living in the past.
(Online May 28, 2008)