Punk is multi-dimensional. While its rough-cut aesthetic is a unifying sound, genres such as hardcore and skater punk give the genre their own unique edge. Merit Maker casts a wide net and captures a few of these sounds handily with Attitude is Everything. Each track has a solid punk aesthetic with a personality of its own, making this ride one that rages on till the end. The first track is Second Glance, which makes an explosive first impression.
The guitar and bass that lead you in are the perfect way to get you moving before the drums kick it into high gear. The punk rock sound is strong and makes you want to get up as the track rocks on. With some explosive, in-your-face vocals, this track sets the perfect tone to rock out to. The next track, Erase You, keeps the album rocking.
The wavy guitar riffs are the perfect way to cradle the wild drums and prop up the vocals. This aesthetic hits home during the chorus as “I’ll erase you” goes hand-in-hand with the melodic guitar riffs, which builds up to hit you hard at around the 1:30 mark when the vocals explode with some signature punk rock rage. All the while the drums give the track a pulse to mosh to while the crashes of the cymbals give you something to wave your arms to, making it the perfect song to rock out to. Another stand-out track is Rebellious Ways.
Smashes of the bass drum give the intro a rock-solid feel, especially when backed by the deep strums of the bass. The track feels decidedly old-school, with a classic skater punk aesthetic that would feel right at home on the soundtrack of a Tony Hawk game. The power of the aesthetic shines through in lines such as “it’s time like this we’re in the zone, and now we miss what we had known” that hit right before the track picks back up with a beat that’s wicked enough to grind a halfpipe to. While each track has its own hardcore vibe that’s easy go rock out to, the final track Slipping Away is a bit different from the rest.
With an interestingly contemplative intro, Slipping Away does a great job of bringing you into the final track of the album. The low plucks of the bass and melodic distortions of the guitar are propped up by the deliberate slams of the drums, as the synths subtly wave in and out. These are met with wavy, synth-laced vocals that have an eerily dreamy quality to them. There is a lot of power in the performance when the drums begin to roll and vocals climb higher with the lines “don’t slip away, won’t slip today, in any way” during the chorus, giving the track a very different attitude than the others. This power comes through during the outro, with a powerful vocal performance guided by a hard beat that finishes the album.
Merit Maker’s definitely making a statement with Attitude is Everything. While it’s mostly about proving oneself and persevering through tough times, the punk rock aesthetic of the album is solid and will keep you rocking on. Tracks such as Raging On and So Blinded are perfect songs to mosh to at the show or headbang to with your friends, while tracks such as Erase You and the final track Slipping Away give a more melodic take on the sound. It proves the album to be a robust listen, with nearly every track having its own punk rock personality. While Attitude is Everything may not turn anyone on to the genre, Merit Maker’s effort is a solid one and deserves a listen from any rock fan. Punk fans might even make some room in their playlist for some of them with tracks such as Raging On seeming like love letters to fans.