40 Below Summer – Invitation To The Dance

Even among a lot of nu metal fans, 40 Below Summer may not be a name that garners much recognition. During the peak of the genre, the band was never able to distinguish themselves from their contemporaries, having ended up on some unsuccessful tours, they would see their record label (London-Sire Records) implode shortly after the release of Invitation to the Dance. The band would fade further into obscurity before breaking up, reforming and breaking up again to the notice and disappointment of dozens.

Ironically, 40 Below Summer were among the more talented bands in the genre — essentially the reverse of a Crazy Town, who exploded in popularity despite only the barest musical capability. The stylistic diversity shown on Invitation to the Dance is really impressive, with tight change-ups and transitions between intense screams and melodic singing occurring throughout the album. The heavy-soft-heavy dynamic was a staple of the genre, but this record executes it better than most.

“Falling Down” is my favourite example of the band’s stop-on-a-dime switch-ups, as it opens with a series of chunky chords and primal screams, and within a minute the track has alternated between a melodic chorus and a series of aggressive riffs. Some criticisms of this album are that the band feels somewhat directionless, forcing together so many different ideas in each song. There is some merit to that, but I found everything sufficiently coherent; by the time this record dropped, bands like System of a Down, Mr Bungle and Dillinger Escape Plan had primed me to handle even more frenetic material than this.

The whole album is very well produced and engineered. The nuances of the drumming really stood out to me; this is another one of those nu metal records with a tremendous rhythm section. For an album I hadn’t actively thought about in almost two decades, when I started listening to Invitation to the Dance the lyrics and riffs to most of the songs immediately bubbled up to the surface from the deepest recesses of my memory.

While I still consider myself a nu metal fan, there is no denying that a lot of the genre’s material did not age well at all. Invitation to the Dance stands out in that regard, and really makes me wonder why 40 Below Summer weren’t more successful. I would recommend this album to nu metal fans both old and new. It’s 46 minutes of heavy riffs, cathartic rage and well-placed melodicism that doesn’t waste a single second of anyone’s time.

Album Information

Released: October 16th, 2001
Record label: Reprise / Warner Brothers Records
Buy / listen: Spotify

Album Credits

Max Illidge – vocals
Joey D’Amico – guitar
Jordan Plingos – guitar
Hector Graziani – bass
Carlos Aguilar – drums, piano
Gggarth Richardson – producer
Michael Baskette – engineer

Track List

  1. We the People
  2. Rope
  3. Still Life
  4. Wither Away
  5. Step into the Sideshow
  6. Falling Down
  7. Smile Electric
  8. Rejection
  9. Power Tool
  10. Drown
  11. Minus One
  12. Jonesin’
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