Aged Teen: This Is Not an Exit (2012)

Bio (from the band):
Aged Teen is a grunge/alternative/punk rock band from Naples (Italy), born in 2008 from an idea of Dario Guarino (author of all the songs too, and also singer in the alternative/metal band “Nameless Crime”). Style ranges from heavy, fuzzy grunge/stoner to hardcore punk songs, to intimate acoustic tunes, sometimes having its roots in Dario’s teenage compositions. Between 2009 and 2010, the band released several self-produced demos, recorded and mixed by Dario Guarino himself. In 2012, Aged Teen recorded their first real EP – “This is not an exit” – professionally mixed and recorded by Maddalena Bellini (also guitarist of Nameless Crime), at AntiPop [musick creations] (Naples, Italy) and mastered by Davide Barbarulo at 20Hz20kHz (Naples, Italy). The EP shows already received very good reviews (on webzines like: Nanobot Rock, My Dad Rocks, The Noise Beneath The Apple, New Transcendence) and several airplays (on web radios like: Live365, MusicAlley, Hard n’ Heavy Radio, Bullspike Radio, RockRadio, SH Radio, Radio Gets Wild, Metalhead Radio, Rokout Radio); it’s entirely listenable online, but the band would still like to find a label to release it. Having an intense live activity in the local underground scene, the group shared the stage with many national and international bands, like Bone Man, Shizoey, Waiting for better days…

Musicians:
Dario Guarino (Vocals/Guitar), Lorenzo De Stefano (Guitar), Marco Iervolino (Bass), Dario Graziano (Drums)

One of my favorite things about the Internet is the fact that it’s made the world so much smaller. Dario (Guarino) contacted me, asking that I review his CD of Italian teenage angst. Right from the beginning – about 0:21 into the first track, “Seaside Suicide,” to be exact – it was obvious that THIS IS NOT AN EXIT has a lot of roots in 1990’s American rock; throughout the album I kept finding myself comparing each track to different bands that were around during that decade.

AT 1
Aged Teen: Marco Iervolino, Lorenzo De Stefano, Dario Guarino, Dario Graziano

“Seaside Suicide” starts TINAE off on the right foot for sure. It kicks in with a very Nirvana / Dinosaur Jr. heavy rocking groove and chorus, and offsets the heaviness with a bit of a lighter, almost Smashing Pumpkins-esque break. There are bits of straight up punk rock and some noise rock blended in for good measure. This song set the bar high for the rest of TINAE, as it rocks really hard and has a lot of nice things all rolled into one package. The following tracks were not quite up to the level set by this introduction.

“Close” brings to mind some of the slower, heavier, sludgier rock of the 90’s, more in line with The Melvins than Nirvana. It’s not a bad track, but just didn’t hold me nearly as well as the onslaught of “Seaside Suicide.” “Self-Doubt” follows, and again we take another detour down a different musical avenue of the 90’s, this time Dario calls to mind Blind Melon with a pretty little ditty constructed mostly from acoustic guitar and piano. “Self-Doubt” is a very nicely melodic track, and while much more restrained than the music that has come before it, I enjoyed this one a lot as well.

An Aged Teen poster
An Aged Teen poster

Up next is “Nightmares,” in which Dario’s baritone delivery reminded me of Type O Negative’s Peter Steele, though the music accompanying is not quite as heavy and dark as would normally be associated with Type O. “Shocking Blue” comes in next, which again takes me back to the place that “Seaside Suicide” resides in, but not nearly as successfully. “Shocking Blue” is back towards the grunge feel, but this time instead of the noise and punk elements, it mixes grunge with a more late-80’s/early-90’s metal feel, and throws in some random dialogue, always fun to have going on in the background of a track. While this one rocks the hardest next to “Seaside Suicide,” I felt it was a bit to schizophrenic for my tastes; I like it when music has a lot of disparate influences that can all be made to work together, but I didn’t find “Shocking Blue” as homogenous a mix of those styles as “Seaside Suicide” was. The final track, “Endless Dawn,” a pretty track made up of light guitar work, almost chant-like vocals, and electronic atmosphere, was just a bit too much of the same for 5+ minutes for me. The song is pleasing to the ears, but it is a bit too slow for too long, and after about 3 minutes I found myself getting a bit bored with it.

Production on TINAE is pretty decent overall. This is obviously not a studio release, but the tracks are well balanced and mixed well, and it sounds pretty damned good. I did have a hard time understanding Dario’s lyrics in a lot of places which may be because of his accent – but I doubt that for two reasons: having lived around the world I’m pretty good at understanding accents, and his accent is not that thick – or it may be because of the production on the vocal tracks. TINAE has a good balance between lo-fi garage rock and hi-fi slick polish, and I like that place in-between that it inhabits.

Dario rocks out on stage
Dario rocks out on stage

Overall, I enjoyed TINAE, though some tracks I liked a lot more than others. There wasn’t any one track that I hated; some were just ok, some were good, and “Seaside Suicide” was outstanding. I love it when I can find a band from halfway around the world that sounds like they grew up listening to the same stuff I was listening to twenty years ago! I look forward to seeing how Aged Teen develops their sound further; for my own tastes I hope it goes more towards the heavier, faster stuff found on TINAE, but where they will go no one knows other than them.

Overall 6 / 10

TINAE is not for sale yet, but you can hear it here: http://agedteen.bandcamp.com/

TINAE site: http://www.agedteen.com/

AT Cover
Aged Teen: This Is Not an Exit
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