Let’s go ahead and state the obvious: The Shrine has given themselves a very chic upgrade. While previous releases has the feel of beachfront midday burnout, Cruel World is an E.P. gilded in high fashion trolling the Sunset Strip after hours (is there an after hours on the Sunset Strip? Inquiring minds want to know). What makes this upgrade work on Cruel World is that The Shrine sound like they just don’t give a fuck.
At just four songs, Cruel World doesn’t waste any time retrofitting trace elements of glam and punk through a Thin Lizzy filter. The title track’s mid-pace riffing shows that while The Shrine may be looking and sounding a bit prettier, they still got a chip on their shoulder. The feel of the entire E.P. is that the band is looking for trouble and “Dance on the Razor’s Edge” and “The Taste of Blood” eliminates any doubt that The Shrine has jettisoned the shit-kicking thuggery they’re known for. The intensity on “She Is Never Satisfied” contrasts the infectious sing-along nature that the song produces which closes off the E.P. on a dose of pent up aggression that leaves you wondering if The Shrine is satisfied.
The Shrine has changed with this E.P., but personally, I think this change is for the better. The band has always shown growth on previous releases, and while promotional material suggests that it’s been a tumultuous time for The Shrine, this is a sound that I’m definitely looking forward to them improving upon.