A STRENGTH WIHIN “PUSHING FORWARD”
(Perspective Records, Released February 9, 2014)
It seems hardcore has long been part of the fabric in Belgium. A quick look at the country's history reveals its motto is “strength through unity”. And “yoo-nit-e” has long been championed as a chief component of the worldwide hardcore scene. Even the once great 25 Ta Life wrote a song entitled the same as the motto.
Belgium has a fine history of producing ear-canal crushing bands both past and present, from Liar, Arkangel and Length of Time to Rise & Fall, Nasty and Redemption Denied.
A Strength Within have been fine-tuning their contribution for several years and their new album is straight up, balls to the wall effort.
“Live It or Leave It” opens it in style - floor-punching riffs and and an in-your-face vocal delivery, which sets the tone for the remaining nine tracks on offer. It's certainly the most hard-hitting opening to a hardcore album of this ilk that I've heard for quite some time.
The break in “The Disregarded” is ready-made for pit pile-ons whilst the title track could be a cutting room floor effort from Terror's ass-ripping “Lowest Of The Low” EP, which is no bad thing.
Indeed imagine a harnessed version of Scott Vogel's band having a bar fight with No Turning Back with Knuckledust waiting to judge the outcome and you have A Strength Within.
COMEBACK KID “DIE KNOWING”
(Victory Records, Release Date March 4, 2014)
“Die Knowing” is the brand spanking new effort from Winnipeg's Comeback Kid and features 12 hard hitters in just over 30 minutes. Heavy, melodic and super catchy are all ways to describe their sound and right from the opener (which happens to be the title track “Die Knowing”) you know you’re in deep waters with the big fish as everything from the song writing to the production is top shelf A#1 quality for a modern day hardcore release. There are albums that you buy and they grow on you and there are the ones you kinda push to the side and then there are the ones like this where on the first listen you know you got something special and you will be still loving it 5 to 10 years from now and beyond. Now I won't front and pretend I have loved these guys from their start back in 2000 because that wouldn't be true so this review won't come from a standpoint of "oh it’s not as melodic, heavy, or whatever as their such and such release" but what I can say is this grabbed my attention right from the start... like a truck load of bricks falling on your head kind of attention grabbing... ya know? I love how “Die Knowing” brings the heaviness but also has tons of catchy more melodic parts especially on tracks like “Wasted Arrows”, “Should Know Better”, “Beyond” and “Didn't Even Mind” with a lot of the melodic-ness done via singer Andrew Neufeld’s vocal style. To have overdone, growled death metal style vocals would have destroyed the magic here so I am thankful that CBK are thinking along the same limes when they wrote this material. This is state of the art hardcore in the year 2014. The times and sounds all change throughout the years and when put up against something from the 1980’s this may sound really different from then but this effort is still undeniably hardcore and I am on board for the ride.
FREEDOM “PAY THE PRICE” 7” (Back To Back Records, Released January 17, 2014)
Freedom is straight edge 5 piece out of Detroit, Michigan with a punch like a hammer to the face. They just put out an 8 song 7" with Back 2 Back Records in January and it's pretty damn good. I love the production on the album. It's very back alley recording style and I feel like it holds very true to what the bands live sound must be like. The songs are quick and to the point and have an extremely aggressive bite to them that's really accented by the gruff Infest style vocals their singer is dishing out. If you're into Infest, Ceremony, Rival Mob or For The Worse give these dudes a listen. Gotta love the new generation of fast as fuck hardcore.
BEARDOWN “57 BORDERLAND” EP
(Released January 17, 2014)
Ah, nineties fever! This one will take you back to when One Life Crew and the like were storming in with messages of life, politics and all those visceral mind altering vibes. Musically speaking of course. And speaking of musically speaking, anyone else hearing Underdog in there as well?
“Misunderstood” breaks in with open string aggression, and then takes you back to the thrash of the eighties, before the vocals kick off and…yep, nineties vibes indeed! The breakdowns and double bass alone here are enough to inspire all sorts of excitement. Length-wise, these songs push it, with tracks as long as three and a half minutes, but every second is accounted for, with many layers encumbered into the anger factory. The next track “Envy” is shorter, bringing the speed from the word go. It’s full of simple riffs, but they’re enough to get your head going, and you remember them, just like you’d remember the addictive riffs that Blkout put out. Haven’t heard of Blkout? There’s another recommendation.
Vocally, Beardown have that gruff almost-incomprehensible pitch, like Forfeit but subdued, and while it might not contain the out-of-controlness that many hardcore vocalists project, it certainly has its own moody and carefree mindset, which makes for many good time vibes. Get stuck in!
PUNTO DE ENCAJE “HAZLO TU MISMO”
(G3 Records, Release Date March 3, 2014)
When I was in high school I played in a hardcore punk band with two vocalists that both sang in Spanish. They turned me onto a lot of the South American/Latino hardcore bands I still geek out to today. Think Los Crudos, Non Servium, Curasbun Oi!, Union 13... Ever since then I've had a super soft spot for any Latino hardcore or punk band. So needless to say I was excited when Chris asked me to review Ecuador's own Punto De Encaje. I’ve given their second full length "Hazlo Tu Mismo" 3 listens now and all I can really say is this band is awesome. Reminiscent of Motorhead, Terror, and Madball but with a very modern hardcore street punk flavor to it, I really enjoy this band. Big crunchy bass sounds, thunderingly loud drums with fast and choppy hardcore beats, guitars that are belting out thrashy riff after thrashy riff, and pissed off sing along style vocals. I'm not sure what there is to NOT enjoy about this band. The recording and production quality is really on point too. Definitely peep this band folks. Y al Punto De Encaje: Saludos de parte de InEffect y de toda la escena NYHC. Vengan a tocar si tienen la oportunidad. Don't forget to check out their video for the title track "Hazlo Tu Mismo" on the videos page!
CAUGHT IN A TRAP “GOODNIGHT NEW YORK”
(Dead City Records, Released January 28, 2014)
CIAT kick off 2014 with a personal resurgence after having been void of new material since 2007’s “Rats Get Fat” album. When interviewed recently for this site lead singer Rich Fie told us that in fact they had recorded a new album in between this new one and the previously mentioned "Rats" but then ditched it in its entirety due to a lack of "soul" as he put it. Maybe that recording will become their “Chung King” one day but that's another story. What I can tell you is “Goodnight New York” delivers in a big way with 12 tracks of NYHC that in some ways does deliver some soul. CIAT's style on "Rats" was straight forward and thrashy hardcore very much like early Sick Of It All and here we see some serious upgrades with a punk feel added in spots as well with a lot more in the way of catchy parts that get stuck in your head. Now don't get me wrong... I didn't think CIAT needed any fixing and they didn't necessarily reinvent themselves either but there is no doubt here that this album lights up their older material which was already solid. “Goodnight New York” is obviously the title and after looking at the cover photo you might be thinking what's this all about? It's not any secret to many native NYer's that this city has gone corporate and in a big way pushing out smaller businesses and the like and this track is a smart take on the events that have unfolded over the years. "So now it's streets that all look the same...mom and pop shops replaced by the chains. ..In a city that stood by itself... I feel like I'm anywhere else" is both catchy and true and is just one of many songs here that has a message that is smart lyrically. Blue collar, hard hitting and catchy as fuck sums this album up pretty much in a nutshell. Songs like “STFU” “The Daily Grind”, “It’s Over” and “Envy Power Greed” are just a few titles of the stronger tracks on an album filled with strong tracks. Available through Dead City Records’ webstore in the US, Demons Run Amok in Europe and through all the usual download places like i-Tunes where you can get it for $10 bucks.
KING NINE “SCARED TO DEATH”
(Mass Movement Records, Released November 12, 2013)
For Fans of: Skarhead, Backtrack, Death Threat, Soul Search, Suburban Scum
At the beginning of November, New York 5-piece King Nine released their LP, "Scared to Death." If you're like me, you heard a lot of buzz about these guys. Hopefully you weren't like me and you actually went and picked up the album in November instead of waiting a few weeks to listen. If you've been sleeping on this band, wake up. "Scared to Death" is an awesome, gnarly, pissed off release that does not stop from start to finish. The recording really captures the energy and raw-ness of a live show but also is crisp and polished without sounding too canned. This album is crushing and heavy, and it's hard to choose a favorite song. I'm really impressed with the writing because all the tracks are clearly from the same band, but they've got enough variation to keep them from sounding like one long song blended together. For being a fairly young band, King Nine has picked up a lot of support all over the place, securing spots on various fests including United Blood and New England Meta & Hardcore Festival, and even routing tours through Europe. I'm excited to see where these guys go next, because they just keep picking up steam with no sign of stopping.
-Ali X Pope
PUIG DESTROYER “WAIT FOR SPRING” EP
(Released November 19, 2013)
For Fans Of: Baseball & grind.
Puig Destroyer is one of those ideas that sounds totally insane until you hear it and realize the brilliance of it. A killer fusion of the two true American pastimes: heavy, loud music and baseball, the 6-ish minutes that make up the "Wait For Spring" EP are brash and gritty and totally awesome. Somehow, not only is there commentary on the game of baseball itself, but also on race relations and the media. At first listen, this EP sounds like a wall of sound, but upon closer inspection it's a marvelously executed fusion of distorted bass and vocals paired with super crisp drums and guitars that are not quite clean but not a total fuzzy mess. It almost sounds too good to be true, but I swear it's real. It's almost impossible to choose a favorite song, but I cast my vote for "Controlled Violence" as my favorite.
-Ali X Pope
UNDERDOG, HUGE @ St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY January 17, 2014
(Review and all photos by: Joseph Carey of JC Photo Media)
Huge took the stage at St. Vitus opening for Underdog and the Brought Low. As is usual in NYC the floor was partially if not mostly empty at the start of the set but that changed quickly as Russell (bass player from Underdog) took the stage and began a heartfelt dedication to Carl The Mosher (recently passed away singer of the Icemen and former member of Underdog).
I had never seen the band before but was looking forward to seeing what Russell could do on the mic since his stage presence as a bass player has always been engaging. He did not disappoint. The band consists of 3/4 of the current Underdog line up with Russell on vocals and his brother Dean on drums.
Those expecting Underdog 2.0 will be disappointed. Those that like the more surf and skate inspired punk of the early 80’s should have a blast. The band ripped through a set with Russell never losing his energy and passion for the material.
The highlight of the set was a cover of “People Who Died” originally by the Jim Carroll Band. The crowd was piling on and screaming along with Russell. NYHC Vet Jimmy G of Murphy’s Law helped sing and was his general mischievous self during the set.
Underdog has always had a special place in my heart. The first time I saw them was at the Superbowl Of Hardcore in ‘89 followed by the CBGB’s “power trio in effect show” with Richie on guitar for the full set. That show was also the first show I took my little brother to CB’s. Richie’s vocals were different than anyone else's at that time and the bass playing of Russell along with his stage presence was something you wouldn’t forget if you were into hardcore at that time. Throw in Dean’s precise and powerful drumming and you had an amazing band. The iconography of the shirts didn’t hurt either.
Fast forward 25 years to a small club in Brooklyn (though bigger than CB’s) and the band still knows how to bring the hardcore fury tinged with a bit of reggae jam. Richie came onto the stage early without any pretense. Handed out the set lists to the band including new(ish) guitarist Marc and walked to the microphone.
“Before we make any noise this is for Carl” brought a well deserved cheer from the crowd as a reminder that the NYHC scene had recently lost Carl The Mosher from the Icemen. Carl had been the singer for Underdog for a short time also so there is obviously a bond with the men and you could see it in Russell’s eyes during his time to talk about it.
4 bass beats of “A Lot To Learn” started the set off in mayhem style with the older than usual but enthusiastic pit moving as fast and hard as they could. The band has always been tight and tonight was no different as they played one song after another with Richie’s trademark presence stalking the stage and Russell’s mix of shenanigans and bass artistry setting the stage while Dean and Marc played tight and enthusiastically. During the earlier set for Russell’s new band Huge, Russ mentioned that Dean was on the verge of shoulder surgery but didn’t want to cancel the show.
Richie was in his yowling finest as the band ripped through a set that included the majority of their recorded material. The crowd was involved filling in the choruses with screaming enthusiasm and pile on fervor as they fought their way over the top of the people at the front to join in and take part.
Highlights included “Frontside Grind” and the obvious fan favorite and closer “Back To Back”. The latter had a classic old school NYHC pile on that caused Richie to disappear though he and the crowd continued to scream “back to back….back to back…..” until the music died away.
A great performance by Underdog even though I’m not in love with the sound at St. Vitus. For me it’s the only thing keeping it from being a great club for NYHC. The floor is a good size and the location is central to all five boro’s with easy highway access.
WATCH "A LOT TO LEARN" from Underdog's St. Vitus set below:
-Joseph Carey (JC Photo Media)
ZOMBIE FIGHT “BREACH” EP (Released October, 2013)
"Breach" is EP number 3 from NYC's Zombie Fight who love to release EPs. They will break that trend when their debut full length hits before winters end and in the meantime this is a solid 4 song chunk to wrap your head around.
"Brute Squad" starts things off and is a solid track complete with a nice catchy chorus and a big ass breakdown for people to kill each other to as frontman Hil yells out "Let's kill each other...like civilized men" all sung with a tongue in cheek style as they use a sample of Andre The Giant and Billy Crystal from the movie The Princess Bride at the end as the lyrics then become more apparent as to their meaning. I guess you would have had to see the movie to get "it" and it would just be inconceivable if you didn't.
"Time For The Show" is next clocking in at almost 4 minutes. At first without the lyrics I thought the song dragged and should have been shorter but with the lyrics the song took on a new life. The lyrics are about getting out of work on a Friday and hitting a bar with friends and what follows after hitting said bar maybe a little too hard. Love the lyrics on this which make a good song so much stronger.
"Law Of Constants" is kind of sluggish to me with a slow pace and probably the one aspect of Zombie Fight that I don't get into although this isn’t the norm for them... and “Outer Drive” closes things out nicely as another EP is in the books for one of those on those “on the rise” bands coming out of NY. Although a nice EP I have to say the recording was adequate but does not catch the raw energy that these guys can produce in a live setting. Steady improvement on each of their EP’s shows that ZF have their melons screwed on straight and are heading in the right direction.
POWER TRIP, SUBURBAN SCUM, MANIPULATE,
WHITE WINDOWS PACT,
@ ST Vitus, Brooklyn, NY January 15, 2014
First up was White Widows Pact. WWP is from Brooklyn and I'm not 100% on what to classify them as, other than HEAVY. Very, very heavy. Sometimes when bands play a style of music as heavy as this band does I find it a bit difficult to hear what’s going on in the songs just because of the thick low end based guitar tones. I don't want that to sound harsh or mean, or like the band was bad, because they were actually very tight. The songs had good breakdowns, fast riffs, and excellent solos. I just had trouble distinguishing the notes of the songs through the super low end distortion. But that may just be me not being a huge fan of the super metal style hardcore or having an ear accustomed to that sound. All in all they played very well and I will check them out again. It also stands to be noted for these guys that the drummer has an epic, epic, EPIC beard.
Next was Manipulate. I've seen them play before and I really like their demo. I enjoy their songs and they play very tight. Their songs are short and fast and have a definite Slayer and 90’s east coast hardcore feel to them. The crowd started moving a bit when they got about halfway through their set which is always fun. I look forward to hearing and seeing more from these guys in the future. I have a feeling they will be getting tighter as time goes on.
Suburban Scum played next. I missed about half of their set because I stepped outside to speak to a friend. I had never seen or listened to them before this show. From what I did catch of their set though I can say.... this band is fucking HEAVY and SICK. They're from New Jersey so there were several people who came up and did guest vocals on a couple of their songs. The style is very Trapped Under Ice, Madball, Inhuman but a bit more intricate on the guitar work side. The crowd was really moving at this point. I got a full beer knocked out of my hand and I wasn't really very close to the pit area at all, but it's all good. The band tore it the fuck up.
Finally, motherfucking Power Trip. Thrash from Dallas, Texas. I had never listened to this band before. I'm listening to their album “Manifest Decimation” as I type this. And good goddamn son. It's been a long LONG time since I saw a thrash band that left me stunned at the end. Fast, hard, and metal as hell. I was taken aback by the talent of the members of this band. I was standing nearish to the stage and trying to get a picture of them for this review and inside one song I got kicked in the face no less than 4 times by stage divers, said fuck it and moved back. Fast as hell, ripping guitar solos, heavy breakdowns. This band completely shreds. I will be keeping an eye of for them again in the future.
SHAI HULUD, THE BANNER,
ZOMBIE FIGHT, MANALIVE
@ABC NO-RIO, NYC December 28, 2013
I haven’t been to ABC No-Rio in at least a decade. It was like returning to junior high. Everything felt 10% smaller. The new bathroom isn’t so new anymore, but it still beats the wall out back. But the biggest shock of the night was the $3.50-an-hour parking meter on Rivington Street. On the upside, my car didn’t get broken into, so I guess some things change for the better.
Manalive is quickly becoming my favorite band. They’ve been killing it, and for the first time that I can remember, kids were dancing hard and singing along. It was heartening to see. I swear if they break up before doing an LP, I am leaving hardcore. It was a pleasure to see Manalive on the same bill as Zombie Fight. Now, I sang backups on their new EP, so I might not be the most impartial reviewer, but Zombie Fight have gotten so good. They play a complex heavy hardcore that sounds like it comes from the era of Wreck-Age bands in the early 90’s. New York hardcore bands that instead of getting harder in the 90’s, got weirder, more complex and different sounding. Bands like Die 116, Stillsuit, Mind Over Matter, Yuppicide, and Fahrenheit 451. Like Wreck-Age bands, Zombie Fight play heavy, mixed tempo, occasionally emotional hardcore that sounds more Home 33 than Madball. Good stuff. In an attempt to be partial, and as someone who sang backups on the song “Goon Squad”, which I think technically makes me part of the Goon Squad, I have to say as a song it’s a good fast punk romp, but I am not quite sure it fits in with the rest of their set. But to their credit, the kids were dancing it up and singing along all set. They also covered an Inside Out song that wasn’t “Burning Fight” or “No Spiritual Surrender” and didn’t get nearly as much of a response as their own songs. It’s always a good sign when your biggest pop as a band isn’t the cover in your set.
I like The Banner and really loved their early sloppy Dead Guy with face paint phase, and I have nothing against Shai Hulud. I remember a pre-metalcore version opening for H2O at CBGB’s, and it being enjoyable, but I had already paid $10-plus dollars to park and was feeling a little lazy, so I headed home. I hear Tom from Indecision did a guest appearance during Shai Hulud, but I still feel okay with my decision to head home early.
MANALIVE @ ABC NO RIO 12/28/13. Photo by: Carl Gunhouse
ZOMBIE FIGHT @ ABC NO RIO 12/28/13. Photo by: Carl Gunhouse
MURPHYS LAW, ST JAMES & THE APOSTLES @ Fran’s Pub, New Hope, PA December 21, 2013
So after 21 years of seeing Murphy’s Law, I’ve easily been to more Murphy’s Law shows than lots of people who’ve played in the band. I have yet to lose my love for Murphy’s Law, and their adding of a Welsh electric banjo player has been a real treat. They are getting legitimately tight, especially their newish crusty punk guitarist. The quality of Murphy’s Law musically has always hinged on the guitar work, and of late it’s been stellar. So I went out to New Hope, PA, because I was asked to do some band pictures for an upcoming Japanese tour. The venue, Fran’s Pub was a little bit more of a restaurant than a dive, and the show started an hour late with maybe twenty people in attendance. I was a little worried about the quality of the show and not really looking forward to the late night drive home. Heard St. James & The Apostles from the bar, and from what I caught, it sounded like a competent bar band.
Like other people who have grown up on Murphy’s Law, I can take them for granted and was not expecting much from the show. But man, my faith was restored. Murphy’s Law went through a tight but extended set that managed to engage everyone in attendance, including the bartender working in the other room. It was a downright joyous time, as Jimmy managed to dance with an older couple, two drunk hippie girls, drink with enlisted men, and get a large potted plant on stage. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds like it went on forever and got considerably sloppier as it went. Well, it was long, but I’ve been amazed at how tight they’ve been of late, even at the end of the night, and the electric banjo player was a dynamo who spent most of the night jumping around on the dance floor. I swear Murphy’s Law is in a good place, where they really seem to have things together musically. They’re even re-releasing the back catalog, and Jimmy swears they’re gonna be recording new songs. As a Murphy’s Law fan I couldn’t be happier.
QUESTION EVERYTHING “FACADE” (Released November 28, 2013)
I hadn’t heard of this band before Chris sent me a link to the free download of these 5 songs. For In Effect I don’t mind it too much to do some digital reviewing but I hate that most of the times there’s no lyrics included. With song titles like “Pride, Ego And Avarice And How It Left Us Behind” and “Scene Not Herd” and a band name like Question Everything I’m guessing there’s definitely an interesting and strong message, but now we’ll never know, will we… Musically this is total nineties galore. If you’re into that New Age Records stuff like Mouthpiece, Unbroken, Ressurection and Outspoken this will definitely be up your alley. Lotsa chuggachugga mixed up with more melodic up-tempo riffing, accompanied with some heartfelt desperate screams. As a hardcore kid I have a hard time with a 2 minute plus song duration, but QE is truly testing my patience with 5, 6 and even 7 minute ones. Personally the nineties were not my favorite decade in hardcore but this is a well done effort that at the least will get your head nodding.
RUN LIKE HELL “IMPRINTED” (Released November 2 ,2013)
Ah, debut fever! It’s an exciting time when new hardcore bands come out of the woodwork and put forth their first efforts, and this one is promising. Run Like Hell have a furious yet methodical approach, delving into the filthiest sludge, then sprinting as fast as they can with blissful speed and gritty guitar lines. Self-titled track “Run Like Hell” is a fine example, favoring the slow heavy approach, garnishing the dish with fast pace and groove towards its end. Imagine Forfeit but with more emotional control, and hell, this EP has some moments that Naysayer would be ecstatic about.
Opener “Wisdom Vs Aggression” has some awesome drum work, and a chorus thick enough to smash diamonds, topped off with aggression building to breaking point, and then breaking down for some seriously damaging head banging. “Shadows” breaks in fast, the highlight here is Cindy from All For Nothing biting and gnashing at the microphone. It’s a rare enough thing, a female hardcore vocalist, it’s a sick moment when you discover them. This is a quick one, starting fast and ending the same – it will doubtlessly play over and over on your iPod. Title track “Imprinted” brings the intensity up a notch, employing some more familiar traits of punk riffage in the speedy moments and even has a cool solo at its climax. Hell fuckin’ yes.
Then the closer, “Caged”, while a heavy and satisfying song, is slightly disappointing. You’ll hear riffs similar to that in “Shadows” and “Wisdom Vs Aggression”, and looked at for its own merits, it’s a fuckin’ sweet experience, but when you hear the whole EP it’s quite jarring. Well, now that I’m making criticisms, I may as well go all the way. The EP can be lyrically weak at moments. Don’t get me wrong, I get the meanings. I can relate to the messages of “Dead City”, in fact the expressions in that one voice a lot of my own feelings about life and the world, but do we really need so much emphasis on how devoid of color it is? Once you hear the word “grey” it’s futile to hear “pale” and that there are “no colors to be found” five seconds later. Elsewhere the lyrics are organic and speak volumes, not poetically exactly, but enough that you relate to them, which is the spirit of hardcore, of course! By the end of it I’m a solid fan of this band, and will follow their next steps, and if they ever come to my town… Actually I’m hoping for too much now, bands like this never come to awaken my dead city, guess I’m doomed to spend my days slamming my fists down, wishing for the experience of a thousand obscure hardcore bands, but I will support Run Like Hell all I can. Damn good show, lads. This one’s a keeper.
BACKTRACK “LOST IN LIFE” (Bridge Nine Records, Release Date January 14, 2014)
It only seems like yesterday Backtrack unleashed their debut full length “Darker Half” to a fully suspecting hardcore community. The Long Island, NY mob cut their teeth with several well-received EP’s and have honed their stage presence and musicianship with several lengthy touring stints in support of their 2011 album. For reasons unbeknown to me I had a feeling their next album might suffer from second album syndrome. Ya'know, when a band's follow up is so labored and rushed compared to the vitality of their first release.
There's no doubt that 2014 is going to be amazing for hardcore. There are so many bands producing so much good material. Then there are those on the comeback trail. Canada's finest, No Warning, are back, on record at least, after an eternity although whether they will hit the stage again remains to be seen. Throw in more live shows from NY heroes Subzero (and a new album please Lu) and already you have bands both young and old thinking seriously hard about having to up their game. Well, Backtrack have and by some degree.
Album opener “Their Rules” encompasses what the band have become so good at in a relative short space of time - a catchy chorus, head-nodding riffs and a guitar riff which takes things into Down To Nothing territory. “Lost In Life” feels a much more measured, harder-hitting album - the old skool influence of Agnostic Front married with No Warning-esque stomp grooves is perfectly evident and acceptable on “Wash Away”. The title track rips along in a blink of an eye whilst Vitalo's vocal range is impressive on the rip-roaring “Under Your Spell”. You can visualize a swamped stage and a saliva-soaked microphone when the end of “Nailed To The Tracks” drops in - swathes of gang vocals makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention. The tempo drops during “Tortured” and “Rot In Your Race” before the band veers into metal territory on “Right This Wrong” with a guitar riff that will have floorpunchers jostling with seasoned bullet-belt mullet owners for room on the dance floor. We are thrown right back into stand-out tracks again - the searing “Play Safe” is one of the most energetic songs the band are ever likely to put down on record. The production is crisp and tight - you'd expect nothing less with Terror sticksman Nick Jett at the helm. Backtrack have got the new year off to a flyer. Watch others follow suit. They have to.
KIDS INSANE “FRUSTRATED” EP (Take It Back! & Goodwill Records. Released December 20, 2013)
The global reach of hardcore music cannot be denied as evidence by the new Kids Insane EP "Frustrated". Tel Aviv Israel is where their home office is and this is the follow up to their 2012 full length "All Over" which I raved about over and over. This time we get an EP with 6 songs in about a 12 minute span. Thinking back to "All Over" it did take a little while to warm up to and the same holds true here with "Frustrated" and I think one reason behind that is that Kids Insane don't follow a mapped course of what hardcore and punk should be. They are very good at mixing up styles and tempos and are kind of all over the place in an organized chaos type of way and sometimes that takes a few extra listens to grow on you but you know it when you’re just going through your day and all of a sudden you got a riff stuck in your head and you can't figure out where it's from. Often what they are doing I embrace but with changing sounds/styles comes risk and more often reward. The up-tempo title track which kicks things off is a winner as is the melodic chorused “Poisoned Youth” but the more rock based Rage Against The Machine-esque “Staring At The Sun” doesn’t do it for me. Fast paced or slow paced songs all show this drive to deliver something more as I would guess their song writing process is either super smooth and these guys just click with one another or they all want to kill each other afterwards. Let's hope it's the first one and this band continues to grow and make a name for themselves. If at first this doesn't sink in give it a few more spins... trust me, it's worth it. Digital version is available via i-Tunes and all the usual places with a 7” vinyl version available through Take It Back! And Goodwill Records.
MUTOID MAN, MANALIVE, SUMMONER
@ St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY December 13, 2013
Some thoughts on stoner rock: one, when did we stop calling it alternative rock? Two, it takes way too long to set up and play. Three, every song doesn’t need an intro and an outro. As you might guess, Summoner plays stoner rock and there is just something way too indulgent about the genre. On paper, it should be heavy, but it ends up bland and technical. Just makes me want to listen to more Coliseum.
Maybe it was the 45min Summoner set, in which I am pretty sure they played no more than three songs, but Manalive were a buzz saw. A tad faster than I remember and like usual, they were an awesome destructive force with, and I mean this in the best of ways, a little Rage Against The Machine in there or to be nice Inside Out. Just saying, for complex, heavy, fast hardcore, it doesn’t get much better than Manalive. I can’t stress this enough, go see them they are so damn good. It’s great they are playing with diverse bands and all, but I still dream of them playing to a crowd of people who actually dance.
Went home early to get some sleep before heading to work in the morning, so I missed Mutoid Man, but despite being dudes from Cave-In and Converge, they’re apparently a stoner rock band, and I had my fill with Summoner.
RAT PATH “MEAN STREETS” EP (Released February/September 2013)
Yeah, bring back da samples! When I did my first bands in the nineties, before we even had written a song, let alone record it, we would be searching for a good movie sample to put at the start of the demo (and if my bandmates would’ve let me, before the start of every song haha). It was like the most important thing. Somewhere in the 00’s this kinda got played out and not many bands would do it, but I’m stoked that Seattle’s Rat Path has found 2 perfect samples from the movies Streetwise and Mean Streets, that suits their music perfectly. So they know their movie classics, they also know their hardcore and this EP (aptly called “Mean Streets”) brings 4 songs that melts NYHC-style with a touch of trash metal. Think No Warning with a touch of Suicidal Tendencies. A more recent reference would be Backtrack with a bit of Take Offense. Nothing ground breaking here, I'm sure you've heard it all before somewhere but considering this was recorded when they were just a band for a couple of months, it’s definitely well done. For a next recording sessions I hope Rat Path manage to find more of their own identity, but for now I would say that if you can’t get enough of the bands mentioned here, than check this out, you might just like it.
KILL YOUR IDOLS w/CRIME IN STEREO, ALTERED BOYS (Day 1) & IRON CHIC, CONCRETE CROSS, BAD SIDE (Day 2) @ Santos Party House, NYC November 29/30, 2013
I love Kill Your Idols. So I was more than excited to see them play two of their last (maybe) shows ever. And as openers go, the weekend shows were also packed with bands I enjoy. As much as I love Kill Your Idols, I am a big Altered Boys fan. It was great to see them on the first night finally opening a big show in NYC, and despite some minor technical issues they played an excellent set. They get better and more musically complex every time I see them. It sounds like they’ve slowed their songs down a hair to allow time to breathe and flesh out some of the subtler shifts in tempos, plus allow for a little bit more mosh. Unfortunately they’re a cautionary tale for every NJHC band: they played a great set at their biggest show to date, but they are already semi-broke-up because their singer has moved to VA. On the upside, Jeff Cannonball is wrestling, their guitarist Mike is playing out in Big Bad Wolf and in theory, Altered Boys might still play the occasional show.
Altered Boys were followed on Night 1 by Crime In Stereo. As I remember, they were a little bit of a polarizing band for hardcore kids because their melodic and eventually progressive hardcore showed up on more straight forward hardcore shows with Kill Your Idols. No question that on Day 1 a percentage of people on day one who were there for Crime In Stereo’s near co-headlining set, but no question also that a portion of the crowd disappeared between Altered Boys and Kill Your Idols. I fall somewhere in the middle: when my old friend Clay Wiers and Tim Ensign put out their first record, I enjoyed it, but never really got into Crime In Stereo. I thought the later albums were more ambitious than successful, an awkward mix of melodic hardcore punk with a more musically complex emo hardcore that never quite came together. In retrospect, it does explain how we ended up with the current day Title Fight. I really enjoyed Crime In Stereo, despite them playing a little long. The years have done them good. They jump less and play more, while finally finding a solid balance to some of their more divergent musical interests.
Day 2 of Kill Your Idols openers started with the fast rocking hardcore of Bad Side. They are from Philly and to quote Artie Philie, “That’s important because that’s where Tom Hanks died.” Bad Side weren’t bad musically, enjoyable, but the sung vocals didn’t always meld with the unrelenting pace of the music. Their guitarist was a live wire and ended Bad Side’s set on his back bouncing off the floor. His enthusiasm made up for any issues I had with the vocals. Also seems like they played for maybe ten minutes, which is hard not to like in an opener.
Then Concrete Cross, the triumphant return of Artie Philie from Milhouse, the best version of Indecision, and Celebrity Murders. Loved everything Artie has ever done and was psyched to see Concrete Cross. They sound a lot like what you’d expect from Artie, but a little bit more metal, especially in the guitar work. Artie was entertaining as ever starting with “I’ve been to a lot of final Kill Your Idols shows, and they just keep getting better every time.” He also tended to punctuate each song by stalking back and forth across the stage, screaming things into the crowd without aid of the microphone. Good stuff, glad to see Artie playing out again.
In a nice deconstructing, Kill Your Idols with openers kind-of-way, the heavy manic metal-tinged attack of Concrete Cross was followed with the melodic hardcore of Iron Chic. Seems that the kids like Iron Chic. Almost instantly lots of bearded dudes throw their hands to sky while Iron Chic played a very catchy rocking hardcore, like Hot Water Music but less overwrought and with prettier guitar work. Really quality stuff, and they were recently interviewed by the Iron Sheik. What’s not to dig about them?
Again I love Kill Your Idols. It is hard to see the last decade of hardcore bands as not being the product of the incredibly awesome Kill Your Idols and their 90’s running mates Kid Dynamite. I swear, young people, there was a time when every new band didn’t sound like Negative Approach or like they even owned a hardcore record from the eighties, or even sounded like a hardcore band. The only knock on the otherwise perfect Kill Your Idols is that they put out a lot of songs. If you start playing through all of them on your iTunes, there are times when things get a little repetitive, not bad, mind you, but it’s just hard to release that much material without some songs sounding a little similar. That’s a testament to their current live set, which is a much more diverse batch of songs than I remember from their initial run, some slower moshier almost metally songs, some melodic catchy songs and of course the fast downright inspirational hardcore that they’re known for. And for having been broken up for a couple years and not playing regularly, they sound great, even better than I remember. The songs have the same intensity and speed as back in the day but with a more defined melody and mosh parts.
Just so much fun to get to see Kill Your Idols play. They really are a band that meant a lot me. In the 90’s, they were such a breath of fresh air. At the time, I was a little burnt out on hardcore, and they got me psyched on it again. Such a good band, I can’t say enough good things about them. Oh, and I think it’s fair to say that even through they’re a Long Island band, they were always beloved in New Jersey. At these two final shows, Jersey dudes were all over the front of the stage, and Long Island kids were a little mellow, no customs, no pool toys, they just didn’t bring it like Jersey did this weekend. Again, love Kill Your Idols, and from the sound of it, these are their last shows. They still might play again at some point, just no plans to in the near future. Hopefully Too Many Voices and Manalive will play out more, and Paul can get to work on a new Down Low record.
RTF 3:D! Featuring: PELLINORE, ANTI-VENOM, NOT THE BEES! (and Jeff Cannonball & Joey Janela Vs. 2 Rude Dudes, JD Smooth Vs. Frat Boy Brandon Kirk, Juggalo Sweatavest Vs. Lizzy Raze, Thankskilling Death Match Lowlife Louie Ramos Vs. “Raw Power” Chris Powers, Mike McCarthy Vs. Too Hot Steve Scott, Black Hollywood Vs. Right To Party), @ The Warehouse Motor Club, Middlesex, NJ. November 23, 2013
I love professional wrestling and hardcore, and I couldn’t be happier that RTF Records is running shows that feature hardcore bands and indie wrestling matches. Hell, the shows even feature quality vegan baked goods, and this is coming from a non-vegan. So I was psyched for RTF 3:D! Show started with Not The Bees!, a band with no lead singer, a three-word name and beards on 3 out of the 4 band members. Not surprisingly, they sound like a less polished version of Hot Water Music, and a pre-Caution Hot Water Music at that. Which to start off a show of hardcore and wrestling was good enough for me.
Anti-Venom was solid musically, heavy, often fast and with what can best be described as a slow rolling groove, but the vocals seemed a little detached from the music. No matter the pace of the song, the vocals were an unrelenting, fast, Infest-esque scream. On the upside, the singer was very charismatic and rocking a rad jeans jacket with a Rage Against The Machine t-shirt sewn into the back. Overall, Anti-Venom was okay, not bad, not really good either, but they were a more than enjoyable precursor to wrestling, which started right after they were done.
Not gonna bore you with a wrestling review but some of the highlights were an African American tag team hailing from “Rodney King Blvd.” who took offense at a tag team of Jugaloes who used the N-word while coming to the ring. Then there was Masshole Mike McCarthy, formerly the singer in For The Worse, coming to the ring passionately singing along to “Hard Times”. “Raw Power” Chris Powers rocked a Misfit’s “Horror Business” t-shirt and a Judge tattoo while wrestling in a Thankskilling Death Match, where he ended up covered in his own blood after being beaten with a turkey leg wrapped in barbed wire and his opponent ended up with a dollar bill stapled to his forehead.
Then Pellinore played, the lead singer coming out wearing a respectable sweater as a bloody wrestler was escorted past him. Singer rocking a sweater. I expected either some 90’s emo or some 90’s screamo. Well, to my pleasant surprise, Pellinore was some very solid 90’s screamo, and I mean that in a good, fast, hard Rorschach kind of way. Kind of sounded like Hoax, but from what I remember of Hoax, Pellinore is musically more complex and less inclined to try to beat up people in the crowd. Despite being fast and heavy, they were able to shift pace at will and even work in some metal guitar. Also didn’t hurt that they were the first band to get some crowd response.
Then the Jugalo tag team came back out and were booed because who likes Jugaloes? In the main event, Jeff Cannonball, who plays bass in the Altered Boys and wrestles as a straight edge hardcore dude, took on his arch rivals, two ska guys, which led to a “ska sucks” chant from the crowd. Sadly, Jeff Cannonball lost after crashing through a table and having a pumpkin smashed over his head. Can’t stress enough how amazingly fun the RTF shows are even if you have to go out to Middlesex, NJ, to catch them. It is well worth it to see hardcore wrestlers beat on ska wrestlers.
CLICK wrestlers photos below to enlarge
VICE “FLAWED” EP (Eulogy Recordings, Released Sept. 2013)
Can’t get enough of that raw, bitter, opinionated hardcore? It's in our very nature to jump on that sort of thing, but Vice’s new EP “Flawed” might tame the beast…for a while. Spawning from the bowels of one of the band member’s garage (or so it may sound) emits a fury that scars them to their very core, and the vocalization of the issue can only be so loud. You can hear it in the vocals. Like so many hardcore bands, it doesn’t need to sound groovy or stylish to make its point, it only needs to vent. The final yell of “Leave” is a powerful moment, it reaches up so viscerally that you feel the anger yourself. And the message, explicitly depicted, is relatable and true on many levels: “And everyone’s a fucking fake / Whether it be to support the blacks or gays / And you preach all these views / but what do you actually do? / Besides sit behind a screen and criticize bands that you don’t like”. Damn, makes me wanna scream at something.
Other tracks like opener “Since Birth” are similar to Bracewar’s “Wake Up” in that it crams a hundred tempos into a minute and a half. Others such as “Every Future Is Flawed” are more straightforward. This one starts with a furious speed and then finds its feet two thirds in, lyrics carrying hard truths like “Life isn’t always fun”. Then the highlight, “Not In With The Out-Crowd” punches in with many shades of aggression and bitterness, that one-string interlude in the final third a musical reminder of the constant frustration of life. Like the song, it may change pace, but there is a different form of hatred nestling near. Too much?
Fans of their previous releases “Grievances” and the LP “You Made Us This Way” know what to expect. For those who are new to Vice, and perhaps many will be, imagine the pace of bands like Tremors, the desperately furious vocals of Dead Swans, the unpredictability of Bracewar’s “Juggernaut”, and maybe a bit of One Life Crew and The Rival Mob thrown in too. And of course, there is the subtlest tinge of the rawest metal finding its way in. Give it a blast!
BACKLASH “WHERE’S THE PRIDE?”
(Eulogy Recordings, Released November 19, 2013)
New Jersey's Backlash are the latest in a long line of hardcore bands throwing themselves on the reunion train. Some of those long-awaited get-togethers have been almighty let downs. Fortunately for Backlash and our ears this comeback is rather satisfying and, more importantly, justifiable. Fifteen years may have passed but “Where's the Pride?” instantly catapults you back to the 90s. With a sound reminiscent of The Spudmonsters cracking skulls with Maximum Penalty, the eight tracks on offer here pack a lot of punch whilst throwing up enough melody to appeal to fans across the hardcore spectrum, from H20 to Hatebreed. “Fall Of Man” gets the head nodding and Pete Gonzalez indulges in some Culture-esque spoken word mid-way through whilst “Self Murder” rolls along on a bouncy riff before gang vocals swath over a meaty break. The title track closes the album (video here: http://youtu.be/lylJAHH5ILs - straight up uplifting, melodic hardcore with a clear message. It's obvious these guys are doing for the love of the music and not for the adulation. Welcome back.
ATLAS SHRUGGED “DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER”
(Released October 2013)
Everybody’s favorite band named for an unreadable book from your high school days have finally released their long-awaited discography. “Don’t Look Back In Anger” compiles all of the bands official releases. Having been friends with Chris since the Hardware days he’s kept me up to date with all the AS records over the years, but having them all together in one format is certainly nice. As Chris explained in the liner notes, Atlas Shrugged were a very hard to define band sound wise, which is why I always thought my explanations in Hardware didn’t do the band any favors, but I must try again… Groove heavy, late era NYHC, heavy on the Burn with some Quicksand style. I always felt the “We Don’t Stand A Chance” and “Old Familiar Face” 7”s were their strongest material, but after listening to “The Last Season” LP again on this CD I’m circling back around to that release. Which brings me to my only beef, and it’s more with discographies in general. I like them to be in chronological order so I can be taken through the history and evolution of the band, but like most discographies, this one is in reverse chronological order. And I have to mention the layout. Included are lots of pictures from the band’s entire history, a short write-up regarding each release and the cover art for each, which is a nice touch.
CROSS ME “DEMO 2013” (Released March 2013)
If you live in Wisconsin you are excluded but quick… name one current hardcore band from Milwaukee not named Expire. How about Cross Me? Not ringing a bell? I got this demo for free at their recent show on Long Island where they opened for Expire. One of the guys in the band was just walking around handing out CD copies which made me WANT to like this that much more. We all bitch and moan about the internet and how hardcore much like a lot of our daily activities has become cold and faceless. Cross Me sez fuck that shit and regardless if this was free or not I am digging what these guys are doing. First off this is far from perfect but that’s what demos are for…working out the rough edges and building on the style and direction a band is trying to go in. The 5 songs here run about 11 minutes in total and Cross Me show that they got something cooking with a style that is not that far off from their homies in Expire. The track “Don’t Cross Me” shreds with blistering fast parts and to me is the direction I hope this band continues to move towards. “Motive” has a nice little short guitar solo towards the end and overall I really like the choppy drum style throughout. Nice start from these guys who play pretty much a straight up style of hardcore but toss in some twists and turns to make this a good band on the rise which I hope we hear more from soon.
UPSURGE “THE DEMOS VOL 1” (Released May 2013)
Upsurge are a young late 90's posicore style band from Plymouth in the UK. I just gave their 3 song demo entitled “The Demos: Vol. 1”, which was released in May of 2013 by Unknown Records a couple of spins. It's good stuff. I don't necessarily want to call the music melodic, because I feel like that would unfairly characterize them as not being heavy, which they are. The tunes are pretty fast, and pretty heavy, but the guitars work well together to harmonize the songs without taking anything away from the intensity of the music. All of the songs clock in at a little over 3 1/2 minutes but they definitely don't drag. If you're a fan of Have Heart, Bane, or Champion you will probably enjoy their stuff. Give it a listen.
BORN ANNOYING, CROSS ME, BENT LIFE, TAKE OFFENSE, EXPIRE @ Amityville Music Hall, Amityville, NY November 27, 2013
The day before Thanksgiving, 5pm doors, and it is raining like a bastard out. There isn’t going to be a big turnout way out in Amityville, Long Island… right? Surprisingly the small Amityville Music Hall (formerly the Broadway Bar as well as a few other names) was packed out proving if you put on a good enough bill people will show up. First up for me was Born Annoying (cool name) who were about half way through their set. You might remember these NJ dudes from a 7” they put out on Reaper Records about a year ago. They were ‘aight in the 10-15 minutes or so I caught of them… playing what to me sounded like a straight forward punk style.
Next up was Cross Me from Milwaukee who served as the surprise of the night having never heard them before and also for the fact that they were pretty damn tight. They are kind of like Expire’s little bros in that they are from the same hood out in the Midwest, and play a pretty similar style of fast, hit you over the head with a stick hardcore. I noticed that the guitar player was throwing in some nice solos in a spot or two and the drummer was rocking it as well. They had a free 5 song demo on CD that they were walking around handing out and it is worth looking around for. Bent Life, Take Offense, and Expire are a package tour heading all over the US and this also included Cross Me up until this show as this was the last night of their portion of the tour. The fact that they were making the most of their time by going up to people and handing out their music for free was pretty cool.
Lincoln, Nebraska was up next in Bent Life. Again, a band I never heard before and after a minute or so I was thinking they were gonna play some straight up beat down style and totally lose me. A few songs in though I noticed that yes, they were playing pretty much that metalcore style with the chugga chugga 5 mph breakdowns but they also incorporated some straight up thrash parts that got my attention as well. Those parts were good, overall though not really for me. The venue had a disco ball and lighting system going on throughout the evening and it made for some trippy experiences especially when people would start going off…as you think they are coming right at you and then it turns out to be just the lighting. The singer for Bent Life pointed out that he almost fell off the stage a few times because of the lighting and asked for it to be turned down a little but it just kept going at the rate it had been.
Chula Vista, CA’s Take Offense who are undoubtedly one of my favorite bands out there today took the stage next and ripped into 4 straight songs before coming up for some air including new tracks “United States Of Mind” and “Place Your Bet”. These guys just have so much energy on stage and are hard and got jams with melody and just fucking bring it. Although a big part of their set was understandably off of their new album we did get a good mix as well of older stuff like “Power In Our Hands”, “No Tomorrow”, “Under The Same Shadow” and of course “T.O. Zone”. Take Offense were tight and to me seem like they run like a well oiled machine in that you can take them out and plug them into any major tour or any show in some kids basement in Anytown USA and they are gonna bring the noise.
The two big draws for me for finally getting to see Expire was A: there 2012 album “Pendulum Swings” was a great surprise and made this sites top 10 releases of last year and B: I love seeing bands that constantly tour as they usually have their set nailed down and are super tight. Expire’s sound and stage presence all hinted that there aren’t many substitutes for hard work and much like Take Offense they came off sounding great. Maybe I didn’t know as many songs as I thought I would considering there is a new album on the way via Bridge 9 in 2014. Me along with most of the crowd did recognize “Abyss” which they did a video for off of that previously mentioned 2012 release and the place went absolutely nuts. It’s not every day that Long Island gets a bill packed with hardcore bands from New Jersey, Milwaukee, Lincoln NE and San Diego so just in that regards this was an oddity and a welcomed one at that. Traditionally hardcore music is very regional and territorial as people like to support bands that they know personally but having more bills like this roll into town would be more beneficial than seeing the same local acts for the 15th time in a year. Good job all around.
MANIPULATE DEMO MMXIII (Released September 2013)
I guess nobody told Manipulate that demos are not supposed to be this good. The term “demo” in 2013 can take on different looks and this one started off as a digital download and has now morphed as well into a cassette version via Flatspot Records. Manipulate are harsh, heavy, and metallic inspired hardcore featuring a band made up of hardcore music scene vets who have some pretty good resumes. There were a bunch of selling points that drew me in quick to what this 4 song offering has and on the top of that list is the overall catchiness to the songs. The beats are choppy and you catch yourself doing at least some head nods along with the tunes. The songs are heavy and for the most part fast paced and have the perfect vocal style leading the charge. To have growled metalcore style vocals over this would have ruined everything. I hear a little Killing Time here and even some Icemen influence but overall this has aspects of NYHC through and through… taking a little from yesteryear and a little bit from today and coming up with a nice mix. The last selling point for me was the guitar sound which is downright dirty…nasty and sounds like it just kicked someone’s ass in a dark alleyway. Whether or not Manipulate was intentionally going for this guitar sound or not one has to admit that it really gives off a demo vibe and to me that means RAW. When doing these write-ups I almost always know which ones I will be going back to listen to over and over and which ones will be collecting a lot of dust. No dust for Manipulate who knock it outta the park with their rookie debut.
OLD WOUNDS, MANALIVE, VICE, INSURRECTION, BIG BAD WOLF @Warren American Legion, Warren, NJ November 15, 2013
I taught back-to-back classes in Long Island and then drove the hills of inner NJ to the Manalive 7” release show at the Warren American Legion. Due to work and what-not, I missed Insurrection and Big Bad Wolf, who I hear are both good. I did arrive in time for most of Vice’s set. They seem to be playing around a lot, and people seem to be into them. They’re not bad, heavy hardcore with some fast manic bursts, but for the amount of heaviness, I could use some more mosh parts. The singer certainly has some real energy and believability to his anger. Watching Vice, I started to suspect that he has some real anger issues and singing is the most constructive way he has found to deal with them. As hardcore has grown into a large, healthy musical genre, you come across more and more bands that sound angry but feel like they are playing a style of music that tends to sound angry, rather than having real emotional problems. The guy from Vice seems like he has issues.
Vice was enjoyable, but I was in the wilds of NJ to see Manalive, who are so worth the drive. Their recordings are good, but live, that band is so tight, they hit you like a cinderblock. I really hope they’re around to get big or at least start-playing bills with thug core bands so people can just kill each other to them (as it should be). Manalive is a band that was built to open for Life Of Agony in the early nineties at Studio One. They are the most precise, heavy band I can remember enjoying. I am in no way overstating this, seeing them is that feeling you get as a fan of hardcore, when watching a band that people don’t know and you can’t believe they’re not huge. Manalive is that band. They are good enough that they should be huge, but being a hardcore band from NJ they will probably break up before getting to record an LP or tour. In the meantime, I am a fan, and I can strongly recommend going to see them even if it means humping out to NJ. I had to be up early the next morning to teach again so I missed Old Wounds in favor of sleep, but people at the show seemed psyched on them, and their being on RTF records, the only hardcore record label that is also running Indie Wrestling, makes me think they’re probably pretty rad.