the Casket Lottery - "Survival Is For Cowards"
Second Nature Records

Let me just say that, first of all, The Casket Lottery can create amazing sounds with just drums, bass, and guitar. With those three instruments (and a little help from Ed Rose on accessory percussion), the band is able to craft soundscapes that ebb and flow with energy and frequently explode into cathartic screams.

Survival Is For Cowards’ opening track, “Code Red” is the perfect example of that sonic formula. The songs starts out with laconic drums that are intertwined with bursts of guitar chords until the vocals explode, screaming “code red!” This formula is repeated to great success throughout the entire album, with varying degrees of volume as the tracks progress. I’m not saying all the tracks are the same – no, not at all.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the songs are divided into three types. There are songs such as “Sick,” where the vocals take precedence; “What I Built Last Night,” where the guitar takes the lead; and “Code Red,” where the bass is the prevalent instrument. The drums are very much in effect throughout all the songs, and provide the glue that ties all the elements together.

The lyrics are almost a cathartic release to listen to, with pop hooks buried within the screamed and tortured vocals. Every song is a potential sing-along, and contains at least one line worthy of quotation.

This is a fine release from The Casket Lottery, and the band’s live shows do the songs even more justice than the album. However, Survival Is For Cowards is perhaps the first local album to ever come close to accurately capturing any band’s live energy in a recording. The sound is dense and layered, but easily accessible to the listener. It’s tense and passionate, music more suited to being screamed alone than shared with friends. Survival Is For Cowards is not without its hooks and melodies, but doesn’t sacrifice passion for them. This is an album that is well worth your time.