At first listen, The Expendables sound like just another ska-punk band from California, a state teeming with such bands. But on closer examination, it becomes clear that this Santa Cruz foursome owes as much to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as they do to Sublime or No Doubt. Expendables songs seem to follow a basic pattern: Lure the listeners into a false sense of security (or boredom, depending on one's perspective) with a mellow, reggae dub groove, then smack them upside the head with wailing, harmonized, dual-guitar solos. It's an interesting combination — for two or three songs. But after a while, it starts to sound like, well, just another ska-punk band from California (who happen to have a predilection for early '80s NWOBHM). The Expendables have been at it since 1997, and judging by their YouTube videos, they're a polished live act. If nothing else, it's pretty entertaining to see singer/guitarist Geoff Weers crooning some reggae while strumming a James Hetfield-style Gibson Explorer. If you've been looking for a good excuse to ironically break out that faux-vintage Number of the Beast T-shirt, this is the night to do it. — Mike R. Meyer
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