What’s old is new, right? You’ve got to hand it to Fat Mike, along with every active veteran band on his label. They’ve really done a hell of a job after all these years of keeping their brand and their bands relevant. We’re well past the “skate-punk revival” phase, so credit given when credit’s due. Protectionmarks Face To Face’s return to label after about twenty-five years, since the release of their debut (and much loved), Don’t Turn Away. They are poised to return to their roots. Truthfully, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a new record of theirs. Scott Shiflett is still “the new guy” to me, and he’s been in the band for twenty years. The last album I owned was likely their self-titled record from 1997 (which was around the last time I saw them live, as well), but I am aware they never deviated too much from their original sound. And, while credited as a band with the classic Fat Wreck drum beat, that really isn’t the case, given most of the tunes had a unique, slightly-beyond-mid-tempo pace. I can’t think of many other bands from that era that had the same set tempo. Protection, though, is likely the closest they’ve gotten to the sound they achieved on Don’t Turn Away and Big Choice. While also largely credited to the incredible job done by the Blasting Room trifecta of Bill, Jason, and Andrew, we can acknowledge this isn’t an easy task. The record starts out with “Bent But Not Broken” and doesn’t let up—no ballads, no excessive ambience, and lots of “whoa oh’s.” I’m sure this release will entice those to dig a little deeper through the last couple of albums, myself included.
–Steve Adamyk (Fat, fatwreck.com)