Thursday, September 20, 2012
Krang- Sounds of Death LP review
“Black Standards” starts off with a moody, lengthy intro, before kicking into a crusty black speed metal punk kind of sound. Unlike the band’s old incarnation, Expendable Youth, this band/ record is largely apolitical, focusing instead on the occult- a much wiser choice on their part, as stereotypical left-wing political rhetoric has long grown dull for me. As a song, this one bored me. However, “Sounds of Death” makes up for it a little, since it’s kind of catchy and crusty-sounding. This is a crusty’s drinking song, and for good reason- it’s good, not just musically, but technically as well. The level of talent in this band is simultaneously surprising and welcoming. It is at the beginning of the track “The Earth Was Blue, But There Was No God” that I’ve realized that this is a phenomenal mixing job- all the instruments and vocals are equally audible. This really helps the songs sound a lot more crisp. Even for the songs I might not otherwise like, a great mixing job can make a mediocre song sound good, and a good song great. The song itself here was good, too. Not a standout, but good. “The Unbearable Weight of Knowing” sounds like a crust punk band playing a song after learning how to play their instruments. Yes, it IS a good thing- this record gets better and better with each passing listen. “Acceptance: Here at the End of All Things” is an instrumental track with sound bites picked from unknown sources dubbed atop a slower, more musical composition. I’m not sure of the meaning behind the sound bites, but the composition itself is well-though out and pretty well-written. Not particularly memorable, but good in its own right. “Death of Sound” closes out the LP, being a more dreary mid-90s crusty song that’s mid-tempo instead of fast. Didn’t like this last song much- oh well, the four in between are reasonably good. Stay to the middle. Still, the few good songs are all pretty decent- worth streaming, maybe buying if you like noise or write for a zine/ magazine. Not bad.
Public Sex- s/t CD review
One part hardcore, one part street punk, and one part Oi!, these four downriver hoodlums and one pissed-off adult skinhead are a relatively new band to the Detroit punk scene, but have in that time built up a lot of potential. If they can align that potential with opportunity, this band could be the forerunner of a new wave of Detroit punk and hardcore. This first offering by Public Sex is the prime evidence for this- “Drinking Song” is the band’s tune setting them apart from the current trend of new jock positive hardcore, while “Nailed Against the Wall”, “Sex, Booze, Punks and Skins”, and “Scumbag” are their anthems of general debauchery and hooliganism, which the band does somewhat pride themselves on. Some songs stretch further into this outlook on life- “Pyromaniac” and “Offroad Homicide” descend a bit more deeply into the nihilistic, negative view sympathetic to the hearts and minds of bleak-futured Detroiters. This is undoubtedly a product of the Detroit background, plus a mix of Cold as Life, Rotting Out, the Casualties, and (dare I say it) the Ratfinks circa 2002-2003. Good stuff, but not really any one song stands out. This would be an even better release had it been split into two EPs and a little more time taken to record and mix it. Still a quality punk rock record worth jamming. Now that the solid foundation has been built, it’s time to see some expansion. I look forward to it.
Tragedy- Darker Days Ahead LP review
Not quite as fast as the older material, but this album is a demonstrably positive evolution of the band- that’s how one releases four albums over the course of thirteen years while staying fresh. This album is FAR from stale- it’s heavier than ever and has gotten much more complex, but still retains a similar level of energy as their previous work. Melodic, almost acoustic interludes, long intros, and of course, heavy hitting hardcore-influenced crust to hold all the parts of the songs together. The album does not particularly have a standout track- it is steadily hovering between good and great throughout the entire record.
The vocals are near-English accent sounding shouts of furious, wrathful anger and despair, comparable to previous material, but seeming somewhat deeper. The guitars are all over the place, but in a great way- they go from soft, quiet pieces to melodic leads and interludes to extremely heavy, crushing riffs and verse pieces. The guitars are the accent of the moody tempo- they are the center stage of the music, so to speak. It is the drums that set the background tone, where even the slowest beat can be the most powerful- “The Grim Infinite” is the best example of this menacing background sound. The bass is both a complimentary instrument to the guitars and an instrument in its own right. Without the punishing bass lines, the drums would not be so… beautifully hopeless and depressing. Holy fuck, is this record heavy and heinous, dark and depressing. Imagine what it’s like to be run over by a tank.
I feel as though this record puts me in a state of mind I need to be in- crawling along slowly, barely holding onto life, and weighed down by burden, yet despite that, movement never ceases, never yields, never capitulates. While the first record may be more indicative of the manic moments and brief flashes of insanity I suffer, this record is the rest of life, the endless scaling of a mountain cliff, climbing with the fear of heights fully ablaze in one’s mind.
This is not a fast record by any means, but there is just as much energy to be found here as in any lightning speed punk record. This is well worth jamming more than a few times. “No Cemeteries Here”, “The Grim Infinite”, and “Power Fades” are the three best tracks on the record, though not greatly more so than the others. It’s almost obligatory to listen to this front to back, and not as individual songs- it’s better that way anyway.
Down Down Down/ DGR/DWN- split tape review
This is some oddly charming melodic hardcore laced with something in between pop punk and plain old punk rock. Down Down Down sounds a lot like Frank White if that band had ever gotten serious (note- this is likely because there are two members out of three who used to be in said band). The passionately angry yet melodic vocals, catchy and memorable choruses, and an underlying sound not far off from Bad Religion, all are parallels from Frank White and Down Down Down. Whether the newer of the band will be as inspiring and well-known as the older one was remains to be seen, but they are certainly on the right musical and social path. DGR/DWN (pronounced Dagger Down) has a mix of melodic punk and emotional hardcore that, while brand new to me, is a new-ish trend following bands like fordirelikesake and others like them. Though not particularly my cupt of tea, I found myself digging these two tracks- catchy, simple, and raspy vocals are hard to go wrong on. Overall a very enjoyable, fitting split for these two bands- they’ve successfully caught my attention for now.
Hounds of Hate- No Redemption 7” review
THIS is hardcore, folks. The individualist, the pessimist, the lone warrior syndrome is the focal point of the lyrics- though a bit of a stretch, one could say that this is Nietzschean in nature, the music of the Ubermensch, if music were a virtue to him. There’s nothing to dislike about that. The music is hardcore circa ’88- fast and slow parts are constantly alternating, and when there is a breakdown, it’s fitting, not just thrown in for the sake of itself. A rougher, tougher, grittier version of Slapshot, the guitars are powerful and tight, the bass is crunchy, and the drums are steady as can be. So, for NYHC or 90s-style hardcore, this is one of the most stellar EPs you’ll come across. Why isn’t this band being hyped up like every other hardcore band from Pennsylvania and New York? This is one of the few bands who would actually deserve it. One of the best hardcore EPs I’ve heard in a good while- nab it ASAP.