Review: 40 Below Summer

by James Wright


40 Below Summer are about to take a sledge hammer to your face, that is unless you pay attention. That’s what happened to me and I was firmly kicked in the head when I first heard this disc.

“We’re not a nu-metal band,” says lead screamer Max Illidge firmly. “We have elements of nu-metal in us; we have elements of old school metal in us. We have elements of hardcore and straight-up rock and folk and even some jazz and funk. We don’t want to be pigeonholed. We’re an aggressive rock band, and rock explores a little bit of everything.”

Unfairly pigeonholed as “Nu-metal” by some of the press, 40 Below Summer borrows all types of hard music, from hardcore to straight up metal, even emo. From the somber beauty of a song like ‘Rain’ to the semi-automatic fire of ‘A Season in Hell’, 40 Below Summer’s “The Mourning After” is a roller coaster of intensity, aggression, beauty and diversity.

“We went through a two-year personal, emotional holocaust,” says singer Max Illidge. “Not just as a band, but individually too. Looking around at some of the things people in this band went through, both personally and professionally, I can say it was a tough year or two.”

After receiving nuke warm response to their debut record “Invitation to Dance”, 40 Below Summer were subject to the typical industry bullshit, as well as a number of personal traumas. Channeling those emotions and feelings into music is the only way the band could survive and the results were amazing. ‘The Mourning After” is leagues above the band’s debut and the album is still rotating in my machine nearly 8 months after release; a testament to how good it is.