Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Cincotta and Dan Kennyat Full Force Studio. Produced by Joe Cincotta, Danny Kenny and T$S.

Band

  • Rick Limenez—Vocals
  • Brian AudleyGuitar
  • Chris Mazella—Guitar
  • Andrew Jones—Bass
  • Dan Bourke—Drums
  • John Moore—Guest vocals on “Even worse”.
  • Jeff Tiu—Guest vocals on “Damage is done”
  • Brendan Garrone—Guest vocals on “Since day one”

Tracks

  1. Even worse
  2. Sever ties
  3. The reclamation
  4. Decide and conquer
  5. Choosing revenge
  6. Relentless
  7. Bound by defiance (T$S)
  8. Damage is done
  9. Nothing more, nothing less
  10. Own up!
  11. Since day one
  12. Smoke and mirrors
  13. Living hell (bonus track)

Review

Every time I come across a hardcore album I’m always surprised at how much I like it. My average score for hardcore albums on this project is 73%. I perhaps should just accept that I’m a bit of an unconscious hardcore punk fan.

I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.

That should help. Until I listen to the next hardcore album, of course. I should turn this into a film: 50 First Hardcore Punk Albums starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Anyway, with that little bit of amnesia over, the album.

Soldiers are a hardcore band from Long Island in New York, formed in 2006 from the ashes of This Is Hell, Subterfuge, Last Conviction, and The Backup Plan. Following a debut EP in May 2006, this follow-up from December 2007 remains their only full-length album.

And do you know what? It’s good. If anything, it is let down a little by the mix. It often feels like it was recorded with the microphones in the wrong room or facing the wrong way, and the lead vocals are a little hidden in the mix. But otherwise the album is full of energy and contains all the key constituent parts required for a solid hardcore album: punchy bass sound, thrashy guitars with a good mid-range sound, shouty vocals with enthusiastic crowd-fueled choruses.

The songs are also typically and appreciatively short. “Nothing more, nothing less” (track 9) is only 53 seconds long and definitely proves the less is more rule. None of 13 tracks outstay their welcome. They come in, do their job, and they are done!

The only anomaly is the final track, “Living hell” (track 13) which is a rap track. Like, straight-out rap. Not crossover. Rap. I’ll just leave that there. Rap.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given my newly acquired awareness of my love of hardcore punk. I liked this album. With a clearer and more balanced mix it might be better, but as it is, it rocks!

Review score: 90%

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Second Chance (NL)—Tides May Turn (2003)

Details

Produced by Dirk Miers, co-produced by Perry Seleski. Mixed and mastered by Dirk Miers. Recorded at De Studio, Asse (Brussel). All music by Second Chance, except track 13 by Sick of It All.

Band

  • Ronald Driessen—Vocals
  • Perry Seleski—Guitars
  • Jimmy Stress—Bass guitar
  • Jordy Middelbosch—Drums

Tracks

  1. Why should I care
  2. Make amends
  3. Tides may turn
  4. Straight edge is a waste
  5. We don’t care
  6. Progress or poverty?
  7. Full speed ahead
  8. Beg, steal and borrow
  9. Teenage tragedy
  10. All over again
  11. G.S.
  12. Stand up
  13. The deal (Sick of It All cover)
  14. Outro (Break up and be loud)

Review

The album cover made me suspect that I might be in for an evening of pirate metal. But no, it’s hardcore.

I think I probably say this every time I review a hardcore album: every time I review a hardcore album, I forget how much I like hardcore. I should really have got the message by now. This is hardcore album number 13 in my collection.

I’ve only listened to this album two or three times, but I’d say that Second Chance can hold their own against the likes of Poison Idea, Sick of It All, or Biohazard. The songs are short (the title track clocks in at 3′ 06″, but most don’t even see the two minutes’ mark), they are melodic and punky, and the production is good with enough bass to give the album depth.

I think my favourite moment in the album is towards the end of “Straight edge is a waste” (track 4) which switches to a very lo-fi vibe, making it sound like the track is being played from a small transistor radio.

The penultimate track is a cover of Sick of It All’s “The Deal” (track 13) which offers a nice contrast between the style of the two bands. All things considered, I think I actually prefer my fellow Europeans.

The closing track “Outro (break out and be loud)” is played on acoustic with everyone singing along. It’s the most pirate-sounding track on the album, and indeed probably in my whole collection. Yah-harr! Ye hardcore lubbers!

Conclusion

Each time I’ve listened to this album I’ve had the same uncomfortable thought: this album is a bit like own-brand crisps. It does the job. It doesn’t offer anything particularly new or exciting. While it may be rather generic hardcore, I like it. It does the job, and it does it well. It doesn’t get in the way of itself.

This band doesn’t need a second chance from me (see what I did there?). I’ve liked them first time round.

Review score: 70%

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Seasick—Bestie Mensch (1998)

Details

Produced by Tom Tom and Seasick. Tracks 1 to 10 recorded at Exit Section Zweinbrücken from 23 to 27 May 1998; mixed from 16 to 18 July 1998.

Bandcamp | Facebook

Band

  • Chain—Vocals
  • Mingo—Guitar
  • N.O.—Bass
  • Nussi—Drums

Tracks

  1. Was ist ein Menschenleben wert
  2. Macht
  3. Mutter Hure
  4. Only Agression
  5. Bis das Blut gefriert
  6. Endstation Hass
  7. Erst geboren schon verloren!
  8. Meins!
  9. Human madness
  10. Nazi bastard
  11. Perfection (bonus track)
  12. Born for chaos (bonus track)
  13. Children of paradise (bonus track)
  14. Track 14 (bonus track)

Review

There is a curious thing going on with this album: like your average Rammstein album, the lyrics are almost completely in German. But the packaging is almost entirely in English!? Anyway…

This album has a very old school thrash feel to it, right down to the lo-fi, raw-sounding early Sepultura-style production (think Schizophrenia). As such, the album sounds better a) played loud, and b) played on something with a half-decent graphic equalizer.

If you’re looking to improve your German, there are plenty of spoken parts scattered throughout this release, which gives it a bit of a European, indie film feel in places.

Tracks 1 to 10 belong to the Bestie Mensch album (which you can still hear for free on Bandcamp). The remaining four tracks are bonuses. Only tracks 11 to 13 were listed on the CD sleeve notes and appear to be their demo promo from 1995.

Conclusion

There is nothing particularly innovative to be found on this album. It sounds for the most part like rather generic old school thrash played on a cassette of a cassette of a cassette.

But as such it does rather have a bit of old school charm about it. It is raw, it is passionate… it’s human. And I really cannot criticise it for that. In a world that tries to be too polished and squeaky and clinically professional I really admire the honesty and earthiness of this release.

Incidentally, Bestie Mensch is German for The Human Beast.

Review score: 75%

Sal—Infatuation!! EP (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Details

Recorded at Stir Studios, Cardiff. Engineered by Steve Davis. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ace (formerly of Skunk Anansie) at Ace Record Production.

Website | Flickr | Blog

Band

  • Cat Southall—Vocals
  • Noog—Guitars and loops
  • Chris—Bass guitar
  • Den—Drums

Also features Richard Holley—Keyboards.

Tracks

  1. In love
  2. Make it on her own
  3. September
  4. Goodbye
  5. Dreaming

Review

Infatuation is Cardiff band Sal’s second release, following debut album Dysfunctional (2005). The band reminds me of bands like Garbage: they have a pop-punk-rock feel, mixing melody with grit and attitude.

The EP fires off with a fast-paced, Bob Mould style song “In love”, before slowing things down with the power ballad-esque “Make it on her own”.

“September” takes the speed up again, but the song fails to hit the mark for me. It reminds me of something that might go well as the soundtrack to a montage in a US teen feel-good movie. “Goodbye” is the punkiest song on the EP with fast downstroke picking, rumbling drum fills and some of the cheesiest lyrics on the disc. Goodbye.

“Dreaming” is another mid-paced track with some nice dynamics.

Conclusion

Production-wise, musicianship-wise, songwriting-wise this is a decent enough release. I certainly wouldn’t switch it off, and I get the impression they would be fun to see live. Whether I’d hunt out this EP to listen to, I’m not sure. It’s not really my thing, but I do appreciate why it might be someone else’s.

Review score: 68%

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Poison Idea—The Best of Poison Idea (2000)

Details

These songs were originally released on separate CDs except “Leaning to scream” which was 7″ vinyl only until now. Released on Taang! Records, 2000.

Band

Pick Your King EP (1983) — tracks 16–28

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Glen Estes—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Kings of Punk (1986) — tracks 4–15
Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes EP (1984) — tracks 29–40

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Learning Scream 7″ (1998) — tracks 1–3

  • Jerry A (aka Jerry Lang)—Vocals
  • Ian Miller—Guitar
  • Chris Tense—Bass
  • Dean Johnson—Drums

Tracks

  1. Learning to scream
  2. Another place
  3. Xerox frustrate
  4. Lifestyles
  5. Short fuse
  6. God not god
  7. Ugly American
  8. Subtract
  9. Cop an attitude
  10. Death wish kids
  11. Made to be broken
  12. Tormented imp
  13. One by one
  14. Out of the picture
  15. Untitled
  16. Think twice
  17. It’s an action
  18. Thing called progress
  19. In my headache
  20. Underage
  21. Self abuse
  22. Cult band
  23. Last one
  24. Pure hate
  25. Castration
  26. Reggae (I hate)
  27. Give it up
  28. Think fast
  29. A.A.
  30. Legalize freedom
  31. Cold comfort
  32. Typical
  33. Thorn in my side
  34. Laughing boy
  35. Rubber husband
  36. I gotta right (written by Iggy Pop)
  37. Rich get richer
  38. Don’t like it here
  39. Die on your knees
  40. Time to go

Review

Thanks mainly to Suicidal Tendencies’ early albums and The Misfits I have quite a soft spot for American hardcore punk. This compilation album from Portland, Oregon punks Poison Idea certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The album comprises their first three releases: Pick Your King 7″ EP (1983), Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12″ EP (1984), Kings of Punk (1986), plus the much later Learning to Scream 7″ EP (1998).

There is a marked difference in production quality between the earliest release (tracks 16–28) and the later releases surrounding it. But it doesn’t detract much from the enjoyment of the songs, although in general I do prefer the song-writing on the later tracks.

Poison Idea were seemingly influenced by southern Californian bands like Black Flag, Discharge, and The Germs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Poison Idea themselves then went on to influence the bands in neighbouring Washington state who launched the grunge sound a decade later, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

There is a raw, energetic honesty to these songs; they are heavy but melodic and played with fervour. “Tormented imp” (track 12) for example (which is probably my favourite song on the compilation) has a wonderful stomp, and lyrics spat out with passion.

Conclusion

While I complained in my last review that many of the songs sounded much the same, for some reason it really doesn’t matter quite so much on this album. Perhaps it wasn’t the homogeneity that was the issue, perhaps it was the soul, the humanity, the passion. And by ‘eck, this album has plenty of that.

This album surprised me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the word: I didn’t just like it, I enjoyed it. It’s definitely the best hardcore album I’ve listened to during this project.

Review score: 95%

 

Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

 Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

Details

Recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio, Denver, Colorado, USA. Released on Fist Music, 2005.

Band

  • Ray Smith—Lead vocals and guitars
  • Brian Villers—Guitars and vocals
  • Gabe Romero—Bass
  • Ben Huntwork—Drums and vocals

Tracks

  1. Punishment
  2. Will to survive
  3. Eat your flesh
  4. Sold my soul
  5. World
  6. Something to change
  7. Fear free
  8. Not good
  9. Awakening
  10. Christian witchcraft
  11. Blasphemy
  12. Untouchable
  13. Shallows in the Vatican darkness
  14. The other side of pain

Review

Perhaps I should have planned a break over the summer. But I didn’t and if I still want to hit my target of finishing this project on 7 November 2016, I’m going to have to fit in four reviews this week! Enough grumbling…!

Immediately, I quite like the mix. The guitar tone is quite ‘scooped’ and more fuzzy than crisp or warm distortion which makes it feel more hardcore than death or thrash. Smith’s vocals also have a hardcore edge, when he’s not growling.

There’s a definite Slayer-inspired guitar solo at the chaotic end to “Punishment” (track 1).

The opening bass riff on “Will to survive” (track 2) is quite fun and again leaning more towards punk or hardcore… if you completely disregard Danny Lilker’s opening to Game Over (1986) by Nuclear Assault.

Is the 100 mph “Eat your flesh” (track 3) a cover? It sounds like another band.

“Sold my soul” (track 4) has a splendid swing to it, a laid back groove that turns on a dime and jolts itself into a staccato hardcore riff. There’s even some melody. This is my favourite song so far.

“World” (track 5) is the second track to open with a sample. It then bursts into a twiddling guitar flourish before burying itself in an almost grindcore cacophony.

Track 6. “Something to change”. More samples: growling animals. Then, ironically, much of the same riff-wise. More samples: “we’re all going to die some day”, and half-shouted vocals.

More samples in track 7 (“Fear free”). And I’m afraid, more of the same.

“Not good” (track 8) is a Ramones-y melodic anthem with (literally) screaming vocals. It is actually rather good.

The title track, “Awakening” (track 9) morphs between thrash and soft rock before finally settling on the kind of rhythm you can easily get into trying to shake ketchup from a bottle. And then… yip, there it is: the hardcore-inspired middle eight… or sixteen.

The contradictory “Christian witchcraft” (track 10) is predictably dark. But it doesn’t take long for the hardcore ingredients to reveal themselves through the black/death metal shell.

“Blasphemy” (track 11) opens with a rather fun (?!) and sour-sounding descending riff which reappears throughout the song. More random Slayer-inspired guitar solos mid-track.

“Untouchable” (track 12) begins with a jolting guitar riff. There are some definite black metal influences in there, which are welcome at this point in the proceedings.

“Shadows in the Vatican darkness” (track 13) opens with another melodic, punky riff before reverting to hardcore-by-numbers.

“The other side of pain” (track 14) closes the album with a clean and pretty guitar pattern and slighty off-key sung vocals. Or at least it would if it wasn’t repeatedly interrupted by someone shouting and playing their heavily distorted and fuzzy guitar over the top of it!

Conclusion

All in all, this isn’t a bad record. There are some really nice musical ideas but that saying, “If I’d had more time then I would have written less” seems to apply here. It simply feels like too long an album for too few new ideas.

That said, if you like your metal straddling the divide between hardcore and death metal then perhaps you ought to check out Immortal Dominion.

I’m not sure this is an album I would seek out to listen to, but if it came on randomly I wouldn’t race to switch it off.

Review score: 60%

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

H8 Target—H8 Target EP (2005)

Details

Recorded at Rhythm Studios by Paul Johnston. Produced by Paul Johnston and H8 Target.

Band

  • Mart—Lead vocals and guitar
  • Scary Dave—Guitars and vocals
  • Mark—Bass
  • Pix—Drums

Tracks

  1. Never fade
  2. So far past sick
  3. Inspiration

Review

This is a self-released demo/promo EP from Birmingham-based hardcore/punk/metal band H8 Target and to be honest, if I hadn’t seen the CD packaging (cover that’s clearly been printed on an inkjet printer, white-label CD) then I would never have guessed that it was a demo.

The recording quality is fabulous. It doesn’t have the raw, sounds-like-it-was-recorded-in-a-bathroom feel that some demos suffer from. This has a good balance between high-end guitar parts and drums and low end bass and meaty-sounding distorted guitar riffs. If anything, the recording as a whole leans towards the mid-/bass-end but that only adds a gravitas and heaviness to the recording.

From the opening riff this EP demanded my attention. Usually I listen to a recording over and over during the week before I make a decision on it. Well, I’m now on my second listen through and I’ve already made up my mind. And the whole thing is only 14′ 10″ long.

“Never fade” has a fabulous, rumbling riff not even a minute into the song. This must be a fabulous song to play live. It’s definitely metal… erm, hardcore… no, metal again… nope! definitely hardcore… who cares! It rocks!

“So far past sick” definitely starts in a very hardcore vein: pounding drums, staccato-ed riff, screaming vocals. And… well, it doesn’t really let up. I can imagine bouncing along to this at a gig.

“Inspiration” opens with a clean, picked riff accompanied by bass. Drums and guitar two join in as the song builds to another hardcore inspired riff, verse and chorus. At about 1′ 50″ the song slows. Open chord. INSPIRATION! shouted over the top of it. And then the build… It’s all very Biohazard. But it’s a British Biohazard and it’s brilliant.

Conclusion

From the outside (a homemade album cover and white label CD) it doesn’t look particularly impressive. But it’s what I often say about houses: you should never judge them by what they look like outside: it’s how they are inside that counts. And inside this is fabulous.

The final word goes to my son Joshua (6) who said about the cover, while nodding his head along to “So far past sick”: “I love how that line goes along and that line goes down and it looks like a sniper’s target, pointing at a dragon’s head. It’s cool!”

It is cool.

Review score: 94%