State Of Mind Recordings
Face Down Records
Label // Nuclear Blast
Outsider is Comeback Kid's 7th album. The band has an impressive 14 year tenure which gives way to an impressive hardcore pedigree.
Their latest release on Nuclear Blast records is a fine addition to that lineage. The first track is what you would expect from a CBK album. Opening with a sonic wave of sound and energy. There are guitar parts on this album that harken back to to old Buried Alive riffs, which is an absolute plus.
Diving into the message section of the review, this album feels a bit light on an explicit message, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Ambiguous lyrics often are easier to identify with than explicit ones. However I found myself having a hard time connecting with the content. With that in mind I still very much enjoyed this album. It has 20 + end to end plays so far. This is a high energy, high quality album both musically and production wise.
"Moment in Time"
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Label // Bridge 9 Records
The 7th and self proclaimed final ablum by New York PMA Hardcore legends would have you believe H2O is riding into the sunset on a high note. As one of the best efforts of the band to date this album certainly leaves you hoping there are more albums to follow.
Produced by Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory fame the production on this album is spot on. Thick guitars, clear drums, and enough gang vocals to turn your living room or car into a one person mosh pit.
Lyrics cover a fair amount of ground on this album ranging from, animal rights, racism, sexism, povertey and skateboarding. Tracks like "Black Sheep" reflect on being an adolescent punk rock outcast (while at the same time throwing out an nod to old school hard core heros Minor Threat). The only downfall here is that H2O has stated that this album will be their last album. At a time where the world could use more positive music this is unfortunate. Thankfully the band continues with a healthy tour schedule.
"Black Sheep" & "Still Dreaming"
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Label // React! Records
Out of Baltimore comes a straight edge band that based on sound and lyrics wouldn't tip you off as a typical straight edge band.
You don't have to get too far into this album to realize the musician ship on this album is the cumulitive outcome of hardcore and punk vetrans. You can check out their other bands (Mindset, Angel Du$t, & Turnstile) From the first note this album demands your attention. Bright guitar tones (reminiscent of 90's post-hardcore on Equal Vision "Shift" , tasteful guitar & bass lines, along with a a mix up of spoken word/ singing vocal work by Andy Norton proves to be great medicine fgor the soul. This quick 7 song album efficiently packs in up beat 2-step (Crash into My Life) tracks punk conisours would come to expect, along with slower melodic tracks like "Walk to the Edge"
Lyrical focus in general tie into the themes of time either spent in vain, or time that passed by too quickly. Interesting interplay of the complancenty of staying in place with the tension of battling regret for not moving forward. Praise have managed to fit a wide range out sound and interesting lyrical themes into a short amount of songs. This album is definitely worth your time.
"Crash Into My Life"
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Label // Epitaph Records
Historically Converge have been the king and the mold of which metal core bands have been cut from for 25 plus years. One thing they have not fallen into was the genre of positive hardcore. While the first song on this album (A Single Tear) alone would have found a welcomed home on this site there is a repeating theme of hope, survival, patience. Songs like Arkhipov Calm dispose well aged wisdom that seldom hardcore bands have the seasons to draw from.
Stored away in my library of favorite hardcore songs live the few that are truly moving. The initial track ("A Single Tear") has earned it's way among the top of those songs. In what I would say is one of Bannon's more vulnerable songs he addressess a new found purpose for existence through becoming a father as well as an opportunity to be something completely new. It is refreshing to see a band with such an aggressive asthetic not only recognize selfishness, but push it away in light of new life. This song is about as catchy of a song as I have heard Converge compose. Check out the lyrics for "A Single Tear" here
The bands sound and song strucures are an ever changing experiment, for that I am thankful. Converge has been pushing the envelope for over two decades now and I hope they do not stop.
"A Single Tear"
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Label // Facedown Records
If you take an initial glance at the track list you will notice so many cameo's you quickly realize this is either a hip hop album, or a hardcore band that is going out on top and inviting as many friends as they can to join in the send off. And so it goes, 11 years and 5 albums later the band is giving up the ghost. The Sleeping Giant crew didn't phone this one in. "I Am" pulls in a 5 out of 5 high fives as they go out on top.
There are bands with Christian members in it that you could listen to the lyrics and never realize it. Sleeping Giant is not one of those bands. From opening track to the last note this album is filled with Biblical references and themes. It makes it to the top of the PMA list for it's onslaught of positive emphasis on love, concern for the well being for fellow man , action through faith, and hope beyond the current circumstances.
The production and musicianship is air tight on this album. The music is what you would expect from Sleeping Giant, aggressive, double bass & blast beat laden. As Meshugga-esque grooves have almost become the norm in heavy music Sleeping Giant pulls these off in a tasteful manner without being over the top. For a band that continuously pushes against over formalized religion I have always wondered if Tom Green's almost monastic clean vocal points are meant to be ironic. Either way I have always been a fan and that Sleeping Giant niche is even further fine tuned on this album.
If you are looking for an album with a sound that cuts through, stands on it's own, and provides motivating message that will serve double duty and refine you at the same time. Look no further than this album.
"Second Chance Kids"
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Label // State of Mind Recordings
The album "Unrest" by Boston 4 piece straight edge band is a breakneck journey of a societal editorial delivered via staple 2-step punk rhythms and abrupt tempo changes. Delivered via air tight musicianship are messages addressing animal rights, a state of the world address on current events, calling out the perils and costs of our modern conveniences and their effect on planet Earth among others. What I really appreciate about the lyrics is the honest assessment of the state of things. On it's own is very depressing, however sprinkled through out this album is a message of hope and strength. In order to drive change their must be hope. Spirits have delivered that through this album.
The initial track "Human Credential" comes in fast with force addressing the Brussels airport attack on Moarch 22, 2016. As a side note this track is also eerily similar to the first track of Comeback Kid's False Idols Fall track off their "Wake the Dead" album".
My favorite track from this album is "OSU". From what I can gather the subject matter of this is mental health. Musically the song teases you with a melodic lift that never fully delievers. It feels as if this song is still waiting for the hook that is the icing on the cake. However near the end of this track lies a pretty epic PMA verse:
"But we push on to find a better day moving along, don't waste time on feelings from yesterday I've watched you struggle I've watched you fall each time a new lesson on the strength it takes to overcome it all"
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