Friday, November 29, 2013
Hit List- You’re Next EP review
This EP makes me want to rip my dick off, throw it at skinny people, and proceed to beat the fuck out of everyone weaker than me. Not shoot, not stab, but punch; choke; slam; kick; skull bash; strangle. Baseball bats could also be considered acceptable in this situation. Imagine if Axel from Streets of Rage went on a huge ‘roid rage- that’s what this EP is like. It exaggerates every part of straight edge hardcore to the most ridiculous lengths, and it’s awesome. Not gonna lie, these are some real crowd-killing, hate-moshing, clean-up-your-life-while-you-mop-up-the-mosh-floor jams. Guttural grunts, burly bass lines, garbled grinding guitars, awesome alliterations, and simple but very direct and uncompromising lyrics. This straight edge cuts to the chase, not to the veins. Recommended.
One By One- 2012 demo tape review
A one-man project by Ghoul Gang proponent Nick Kucway (Face Reality, Retribution, Freedom, Left of the Dial, Deathskin Razors, etc.), this is classic youth crew incarnate. Badass hand-drawn artwork, fast tunes, quick jams, and simple songs; not a bad mix, though the audio mix at times could be better (louder vocals would be A-OK). Still, it’s a sample of the Ghoul Gang’s musical output that seems to be able to do no wrong. The sound is modern, but unconsciously so- it’s familiar as can be, but it doesn’t sound like it’s trying to be something, it merely ‘is’. Also, this project has a song coming out on a Lost Time Records compilation that will also feature Freedom, True Love, Retribution, and From Hell. Though largely a project based on the Ghoul Gang and friends, the sound fits in nicely. A good demo.
Against the Grain- Surrounded By Snakes CD review
This is modern classic rock- while paying tribute to many old bands like Black Sabbath, Motorhead, the Dead Boys, and early Metallica, they are also planted in a more modern sounding style of rock and roll, like the anthems of a stoner who just had his first pot of coffee for the day. The tempo is often mid-tempo and occasionally slows down to a stoner rock sort of beat, and sometimes picks up to a classic thrash pace. The best way to think of it is like a Bell curve- most of the beats are mid-tempo, with the occasional slow-down or speed-up. The guitars have a very heavy feel to them, but more in a loud, headbanging sort of way, rather than a sludgy, powerful way that one might envision when thinking of “heavy music”. Sounds are well-mixed, evenly balanced; it’s very slick and professional. Lyrical content is about traditional rock and roll kind of stuff- being in a band/on the road, love of rock and roll (which has always puzzled me, but ATG is far from the first or last band to have a song about the musical genre they are playing), drinking, the end of life as we know it, the bores of daily life, etc. Not provocative, but definitely catchy and easy to remember, which is honestly more important in rock and roll. This record reminds me of two things: One, the kind of rock and roll I grew up listening to as a kid and being enthralled with the enormity of it, and two, the kind of up-tempo (at least comparatively so) music that people have sloppy drunken awesome sex to. I can see rocking out to this at a bar or at home. A prime example of what contemporary, non-shitty rock and roll should sound like.
Dismantle- Complaints EP review
Taking the negative vibe of modern hardcore and the lyrical subjects of old school hardcore, and mixing the sounds of both, this group is definitely caught in the middle between the sound types and eras. The vibe is good, the songs are driven, sound slick, and is memorable if nothing else for the repeated parts with gang vocals (All I Am and All I’m Not, Heavy Hands Heavy Head). Lyrical prowess varies, but is largely relatable- internal struggles, anti-humanity, anti-religion, and general frustrations with society and life; it works for what it is. The singer’s voice is a bad shrill at times and it’s an occasional distraction, but it doesn’t interfere with the overall presentation of the music. Another solid Toledo-area hardcore band; enjoyable, even though I’ve heard better- it’s good for what it is and doesn’t worship the ground modern bands walk on.
Assault USA- demo tape review
This demo is pure hardcore; no metal, no punk, no screamo, no other influences to speak of. Given that, it’s very short and simple, and the songs are different in terms of quality, but “Painful” is particularly good- it sounds vaguely evil, but on a relatable level, as opposed to the illusions and nightmares of some lyricists/vocalists. Packaging is good, though this tape was recorded over something else (I can’t figure out what it is this time) and given what I heard after waiting for maybe five minutes, it’s better that way. I can’t say I’m impressed, but I will say that it is, above all, simple, as though it didn’t need to be excellent, which it of course doesn’t always have to be. Sometimes, the most enjoyable things in life are not complicated or require intellectual prowess to appreciate. Sometimes, things are just cool, you like them, and it doesn’t require any more explanation than that. This demo is one such thing.
Lay It On the Line- Crowhurst tape review
A sort of street punk mixed with melodic punk/hardcore; the production value on this tape is damn fine, very polished and clear, strong if you will. The guitar riffs are the most notable attributes of the songs here, though the gruff but not cacophonous vocals are another worthy piece of the music here. This is largely a mid-tempo record, the energy evenly spread across all the instruments. Though there is not a lot of overwhelming power in any of the parts of the music, it is still rather strong, especially for hardcore that emphasizes more on melody than on rhythm. Not a piece to be broken up into individual songs, the record as a whole is pretty good, but the individual songs don’t stand out much. Packaging on the tape is good, but I always like a lyric sheet with any record or tape. A good investment for those who like the other side of hardcore, the one less traveled.