Many bands who release an album after a long hiatus inevitably disappoint. Expectations are too high, inspiration isn’t what it once was, and momentum is lost. Partycrasher is a boot to the face of every flat late-career release that preceded this one. “Why’d I take so long to break these chains around me?” The band soon answers the opening self-imposed question with an admission in “Boat Builders”: “I admit I’ve been bored, I’ve been lazy.” The next 10 tracks serve as more than an adequate apology, as A Wilhelm Scream has stuck yet another jaw-dropping middle finger to the competition.
Nobody does this brand of melodic thrash punk exactly like A Wilhelm Scream. For years there have been imitators, and now the bar has been raised yet again. A Wilhelm Scream has long been lauded for their incredible musicianship and technical prowess, and that hasn’t changed on Partycrasher. Though noticeably more focused and structured than previous efforts, Partycrasher remains is an incredible achievement of bombastic vocals, wild bass lines, and shredding guitars. It’s exactly the type of maturation you hope a band would go through late into their careers. It’s unapologetic and tight. This album took six years to release, and it shows. The polish on every song is remarkable, as every single piece is layered expertly. The production is flawless, featuring Nuno and Trevor’s voices at just the right levels, while taking a back seat when appropriate. Incredible guitar solos, like in “Ice Man Left a Trail,” are thrust to the front at the right moments and shifted back as the songs transition. The album’s strongest track, “Walkin’ with Michael Douglas” is a wonderful blend of simplicity with bounding bass lines paired with the album’s most catchy chorus and bridge. “Born a Wise Man” blows listeners away with shredding guitars and constantly changing tempos, chaotically keeping things uniform. There’s very few bands that can get away with such ambitious song structures while keeping you along for the ride, but A Wilhelm Scream does it expertly, a testament to their next-level talent.
From the expert transitions comes incredible depth, as these songs are full of dozens of small changes in tempo and beat. There’s choruses, but they never feel repetitive. There isn’t a single boring moment on the album, and even the album’s lone misstep, “Sassaquin,” has tons of subtle pieces that highlight themselves on each further listen. Through twenty plus listens, there are new moments that pop up every pass through. My opinion on the album’s strongest songs constantly change, because there’s so much to digest. It took me five years to decide that Career Suicide was my favorite album by them, but this is already making me reconsider. It’s A Wilhelm Scream in a brand new, yet familiar light. The same sneering contempt of delivery is there, but it is put together in an undoubtedly tight package. Partycrasher is full of the same lyrical bravado and snark that previous AWS records have. All together, Partycrasher is self-contained as the newest, best version of A Wilhelm Scream. If you’re already a fan, it will make you reconsider your favorite album by them. If it doesn’t right away, it might in a month. There’s that much to get through, even though the album clocks in at just over 34 minutes.
I quit writing reviews earlier this year. I didn’t have the energy to keep reviewing the same songs sung by different vocalists, packaged in different jewel cases, on different labels. I reviewed my first album for this website in 2004. At that time, Mute Print changed my world, and looking back, my expectations were perhaps unfairly high for everything other inferior imitation that came across my desk. I ran out of patience for bands doing the same thing that everyone else was, especially when a band like A Wilhelm Scream was doing something that couldn’t be replicated. Nearly a decade later, that sentiment hasn’t changed. This is an album worth coming out of retirement for. Place A Wilhelm Scream into whatever brand of punk genre there is, it doesn’t matter. It is unquestionably the best album released this year in whatever genre you choose. Partycrasher closes with a proclamation that “no one can get it done like us.” It’s true, and hopefully we don’t have to wait six years ever again.