90’s score – 7.5/10
2020 score – 5.5/10
Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge that in writing this piece, I am actively forfeiting any minuscule sense of credibility that I may have ever held as a writer and music pundit. Big deep breath, there was a time when I had a terrible taste of music. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Jason, you STILL have a terrible taste in music,” to which I say valid point and also fuck you. My name is Jason Greenberg, and when I was ten years old, I was a die hard Serial Joe fan. The year is 1999, Post-grunge and Nu metal are on an upswing, jinco jeans are the fucking shit (not really, nor will they ever be you filthy parachute legged fucks), and Newmarket, ON up and coming teen quartet Serial Joe are the edgiest fucking thing since your grandmother’s silent porn collection.
Face Down was such a formative piece of my young life. It was one of the first records I ever got into that I didn’t cherry pick off my older brother and I clung to that fact like my fucking life depended on it. These four cats surfed the waves of trend like no one’s business; baggy fucking jeans, ridiculously spiked hair, and angst out the fucking ass. Picture an unholy love child between Rage Against the Machine and Korn with next to none of the gravitas. Once you’re done vomiting at my typical use of orgies to create subsequent bands, move on to the fact that this baby fucking Family Values tour were ACTUAL FUCKING KIDS, pumping this record out at the very unripe age of fifteen with the kind of depressive connotations of a drunk thirty five year old still playing out of his mothers garage with his fucking McDonald’s coworkers. This was a time that made these songs feel so heavy to a ten year old, and probably laughable to the learned adult, but so dripping in angst that someone even remotely in my age range probably just thought the tall people didn’t fucking get it so fuck them.
Let’s not mince words, having to re-listen to this record twenty years later has shown me just how fucking cringe the whole ordeal was. That being said, there’s not an “alternative” loving Canadian alive that doesn’t remember the melody to “Mistake” because really, underneath the flat vocals, trash cash drums, Walmart brand overdriven string section tones, honestly half decent recording quality, and gaudy fucking appearance, was the one thing that Serial Joe were actually kind of good at, catchy melody work. Yes, the predominance of their songs are rap influenced nu metal and (uncorrelated) absolute shite (subjectively speaking), but even deeper cut tunes like “Sanity” had these inescapable moments of riffy-ness and hook that had you thinking “fuck, this isn’t leaving my head any time soon is it?” Instrumentally, this act had their hands so deeply on the proverbial pulse, where tracks like “Dragon On My Shoulder” genuinely had you thinking you were listening to any one of the major name post grunge or nu metal acts of the time all to be reminded moments later by tracks like “Push” that you were most definitely listening to an abnormally young, yet raw, group of musicians attempting inflections only a little out of the conceivable perception.
Ultimately this band met its end after a success so quick and hard my missing virginity called to tell me I wasn’t THAT bad, but in some way, that same success from Face Down helped mark a Canadian inclusion in something that honestly felt so staunchly American at the time. This record won honest to god awards. Do I think this is a band worthy of a comeback? Fuck no. Do I think this record could even be considered a classic? Also fuck no. This was a sound beloved to a specific time but bore no longevity. Do I hold these memories close to the heart as a record that helped spark a horrible and unholy journey to the dark side? Probably fuck no but you know what man, ten year old me would have marked for these dudes till the grave and for that, I tip a hat to my little ugly ass and continue to shamefully enjoy these youthful abominations nostalgically one last time since, ya know, that’s the entire fucking point here.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate