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F-Minus formed in Huntingdon Beach in 1997, an area that was populated with a plethora of pop punk and ska bands. Against this background of radio friendly acts, the band peddled their brand of hardcore and won their own legion of fans with their heavy and honest songs about life. In 1998 the band released their debut album on Hellcat and have subsequently remained part of the family. 'Wake Up Screaming' is their third Hellcat release, and finds them as pissed off with the state of things as ever.
For this release F-Minus have teamed up with legendary producer Steve Albini, he of Nirvana and The Pixies fame. However, for the band it was his attitude rather than his credentials that appealed to them. Albini understood the underground, and that was very much the ethos the band wanted to reproduce on record. As such, Albini has left many mistakes on the album. There are messed up vocal lines and missed cues evident, but it is these mistakes that allow the listener to hear the band for what they truly are: raw and uncompromising.
To say that the first half of 'Wake Up Screaming' is heavy going would be a massive understatement. With a dual guitar attack, heavy, fast bass lines, crashing drums, and the dual male and female vocals screaming for all their worth, the early songs on the album really bring home the pain of life that the band covey. The aptly titled 'Sweating Blood' sees the band starting as they mean to go on, with raw emotion dripping from Erica's vocals. 'Not this time' has Brad stepping into the lead vocal role, with Erica backing, and if anything its an even faster track. However, this aggression peaks on the awesome 'Mother of Suffering', with the band giving it everything they've got. It may be nothing more than three-chord punk at times, but the band give every song so much energy that their audible persona gives the listener so much more.
If anything 'Here Lies Jessica' has the band stepping up a musical gear for the second half of the album, with the obvious sentiments of the band coming across by differing means. This song for instance features more subtle vocal changes, and some intricate guitar work. 'The Iconoclast' speeds thing up again, and is a song that will go down a treat in a live setting. 'The Mind' and 'Paid to Listen' both prove to be standout tracks before 'Barking Dog' rounds things off in style.
'Wake Up Screaming' is another great album from a band that really do wear their emotions on their sleeves. It won't be an album to everyone's taste, but I would urge anyone with a slight inkling for hardcore to give this a listen. F-Minus are brutal and brilliant in equal measures, and have proven yet again that they are one of Hellcat's finest.