Release Date: Jul 19, 2011
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Rap, Rap-Metal, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Rap-Rock, Funk Metal
Give 311 points for sticking around. Since 1992 — a millennium in band-years — the Omaha, Nebraska quintet has been churning out fratty dude-rock, offering the same hopped-up ska-rock rhythms, the same sloppy funk bass, the same, um, "turntablism," in the service of an unwavering message: We rule, let's party. On album number (gulp) 10, 311 are still really freaking psyched to be 311.
If there is one word to describe rap/funk metal fusionists 311, it is consistency. The Nebraska alt rockers have had the same lineup since 1992, continue to sell out arenas around the U.S. despite only moderate mainstream success, and even rapper/turntablist S.A.’s Martinez’s on-stage dance moves haven’t changed. Musically, depending on whom you ask, 311 puts out a consistently infectious melding of rock, reggae and rap; or they continue to put out a formulaic, white middle-America hijacking of said genres.
311 is loved and hated; the two strong emotions permeate from music fans and concert-goers every summer during the band’s annual Summer Unity Tour. The hardcore fans get behind the music and will follow 311 for as long as they keep going. The haters will disrespect every slight imperfection– the kind that all bands encounter– and put it on a grand scale of the worst thing to happen in music.
Weighing in at a mere eight songs that clock in at under a half-hour, Universal Pulse barely meets the modern parameters of a full-length album. It feels as brief as an EP and its tightness extends to the songs themselves, which don’t so much boil 311 down to their essence but focus on their hardest, boldest elements. Within the sharp relief of Bob Rock’s immaculate production, this can mean that the fuzz-toned guitars and crunching riffs are strenuously underlined: they are the foundation of this unusually rock-oriented 311 album yet in this crystal-clear atmosphere they drill, not pummel.