The transformation of No Fair Fights has been absolutely stunning. Just two years ago, the group was churning out mediocre, cookie-cutter pop punk. But the outfit's musicianship has taken a quantum leap since then, and its latest effort, a self-titled, seven-song affair, is killer from start to finish. The prog-inflected, guitar-driven songs effortlessly bridge the gap between the melodic metalcore of acts like Killswitch Engage and the scream theater of such bands as Underoath and Dead Poetic. With material that's compelling enough to obscure any missteps, vocalist/guitarist Collin Sanford and his crew display an acute sense of melody with taut, epic choruses bolstered by sleek, seamless harmonies. And Fights' youthful vigor is matched by its earnest, soul-searching optimism on such tracks as "Show Me the Edge." One of the year's strongest, best-sounding releases, No Fair Fights scores a knockout.
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