ThePunkSite.com

77號刀

Burning Fiction

Contrasts

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Contrasts is the latest offering from Australian pop punk quintet Burning Fiction, this is the follow up to their 2012 EP The Story Will Continue. This is the sound of a band treading a well worn path. There are elements of power pop and punk, both of which are played with a melodic style, the subject matter is largely based around love and hanging out, does this sound familiar? It should, because it’s become the template for pretty much every pop punk band out there. There is nothing wrong with this album, it’s just that you get deja vu when listening to it, it’s reminiscent of so many other bands that you can easily forget exactly who you’re listening to.

There isn’t a bad track on this album, then again there isn’t an outstanding track either. I would have no complaints if someone played this album, but if you asked me a few hours later to recall something specific about it, I would seriously struggle. This the problem with a lot of pop punk, there is a plethora of bands out there creating similar albums, covering similar subjects and even wearing similar shorts. The whole beauty of punk was it’s diversity and energy, and I sometimes feel those qualities are being lost.

Contrasts is an odd choice of title for this album, when you consider that it pretty much doesn’t have any, the ten tracks of power pop punk are all pleasant enough but they just don’t stick with you, I’ve played the album twice whilst writing this review and I’m struggling to remember what I thought, and I’m off into my third run through. This might sound like I’m being unusually harsh about an album with no obvious flaws, and that’s not my intention. Burning Fiction clearly have talent and ability, but they need to stamp their own identify onto their material to avoid being just another pop punk band amongst the herd.

You can purchase Contrasts Here

Video: Hightime – Splitside

HightimePee Records punk band Hightime has premiered a new music video.  The video features the song “Splitside” their latest album, Mother Crab.  

Watch the video below.

Read More…

Burning Fiction Announce New Album; Stream First Track

Burning FictionAustralian pop-punk act Burning Fiction has premiered the first new song form their freshly announced new LP.  The song is titled “Mr. Frothington” and will appear on the ten-song full length, Contracts, which is due out March 25, 2016 via Pee Records.

Listen to the new song and make a pre-order here.

Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant, Dan Cribb Release Split

Alkaline Trio’s Derek Grant, Dan Cribb Release SplitAlkaline Trio drummer Derek Grant along with Australian singer/songwriter Dan Cribb released a 7” split EP on Dec. 11, 2015 via Adelaide label Pee Records. Check out the track listing below, and stream the first single here.

Along with drumming in Alkaline Trio, Grant debuted a solo record at the end of 2014 titled Breakdown and is continuing work for a follow-up release. Cribb also kicked off a solo career over the last year, releasing a full-length titled As We Drift.

Read More…

Video: Driven Fear – Fireball (Mr Sinister)

Driven FearAustralian hardcore mob Driven Fear have premiered a new music video.  The video features the song “Fireball (Mr Sinister)” from their upcoming  full length, Freethinker, which is due out on February 26, 2016 via Pee Records. This is the band’s first full length since 2011’s Contender LP and ahead of the street date the band are streaming the first single In Care Of Pt.2.

Watch the video below.

Read More…

Driven Fear Announce Full Length, Drop Single

Driven FearAustralian hardcore mob Driven Fear have announced that their new full length Freethinker is due for release on February 26th via Pee Records. This is the band’s first full length since 2011’s Contender LP and ahead of the street date the band are streaming the first single In Care Of Pt.2.

Check out the stream of In Care of Pt.2 and the LP’s cover art below.

Read More…

Driven Fear Announce New LP; Stream First Track

Driven FearPunk group Driven Fear has announced that they will be releasing a brand new full length next month.  The disc will be titled Freethinker and is set to drop on February 26, 2016 via Pee Records.   

The single “In Care Of Pt. 2” is now streaming below. Pre-Orders are now live.

Read More…

Yotam & Dan Cribb Stream Split EP

Pee RecordsThe good folks at DyingScene are streaming the brand new split from Yotam (Useless ID) and Dan Cribb (The Isolated).  The split will be formally released on August 28, 2015 via Pee Records.  Yotam is currently gearing up for his solo full length debut, due out this October on Hardline Entertainment.

Listen to the six-song split here.

The Decline

The Decline

Resister

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

If you’re into 90’s style skate-punk, then you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with Australian four piece The Decline. Drawing broad inspiration from countrymen Frenzal Rhomb and Local Resident Failure, along with recognizable staples No Use For A Name and NOFX, the Perth punk outfit puts their best foot forward for their third full length, Resister. Chalk full of accelerated drum arcs and speedily layered vocal harmonies, those that refuse to acknowledge that the 90’s ended fifteen years ago stand to wholeheartedly embrace every second of the ensuing 30 minutes.

The Decline wastes no time parading their melodic punk prowess as opener “New Again” races in on the coattails of a snapping drum beat over harmonizing vocals. From there the band invites listeners to a lively display that doesn’t hesitate to punctuate each next chorus with the tuneful melody of upbeat riffs. As seen a track later with “Giving Up Is A Gateway Drug,” The Decline tactfully barrels ahead in a melodic frenzy only to sensibly reel the hysteria back in and compliment their quickest passages with a soft spoken, emotional bridge. In the case of “I Don’t Believe,” the same can be said of the emergence of the track’s big, recurring gang-bolstered choral apex. “You Call This A Holiday” takes similar advantage of a cleaner, more emotionally in-tune intro in much the same way that Resolve-era Lagwagon juxtaposed light segments against bursts of runaway speed. While a superficial listen might brush off The Decline as a one trick skate-punk act, a closer listen quickly sheds light on a far more balanced ensemble.

While a feverous pace lies at the core of The Decline, a binding respect for ambitious elements of those like Propaghandi serve as an undercurrent.  Late song solos in tracks like “The Blurst Of Times” and “I Don’t Believe” do more than simply fill the runtime – they offer an insight to The Decline’s depth of performance.

 Lyrically, The Decline comes cut from the same socially aware cloth as their influences.  While many tracks like “I Almost Never Met You” aren’t exactly what you’d call “high stakes,” The Decline isn’t afraid to make a statement either.  A little less direct and structurally fired up (they’re far from a political punk band), tracks like “New Again” certainly present The Decline as a troupe that has their priorities in order.  Songs about changing perspective (“The Blurst Of Time”), coming to terms with loss (“Wrecking Ball”) and resilience (“Broken Bones”) ensure that listeners always have something worthwhile to follow along with.  

As Resister makes clear, The Decline is a familiar breed of punk band; rapid, melodic skate-punk that’s every bit as easy to get into as it is quick.  While slightly softer in attitude or intent as perhaps Pennywise or NOFX, the overall feeling remains energized and engaging.  Those with a hankering for some 90’s style punk-rock can’t go wrong with Resister.

Hightime Streams New Album

HightimePee Records punk band Hightime is streaming their freshly dropped new album.  

The disc is titled Mother Crab and can be heard here.

Local Resident Failure

Local Resident Failure

This Here's The Hard Part

Disconnect Disconnect Records (UK) / Pee Records (Australia)
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Australian melodic skate-punk act Local Resident Failure returns with their latest full length, This Here’s The Hard Part.  Having already proven themselves as frontrunners in the contemporary skatepunk scene thanks to their sharp sense of sarcasm and heightened social conscious, a follow up need only sustain the momentum first put forth by A Breath Of Stale Air.  For the most part, the Newcastle quartet does just that.  This Here’s The Hard Part makes for a natural, albeit slightly less hard hitting, next step.

From a punk-rock standpoint, Local Resident Failure sounds tighter than ever.  Tempos range from fast to faster punctuated by a few pace-conscious breathers; the rumble of drums make for a breakneck battering a la No Use For A Name (see “Failing Health” and “Time Machine”) with the occasional technical expose hinting at flashes of Strung Out (as hidden in the relationship-manipulation piece “Brainwashed”).  Tuneful old school melodies and steadfast vocal harmonies bring This Here’s The Hard Part to life in much the same vein as countrymen Frenzal Rhomb.  

Lyrically, This Here’s The Hard Part marks a somewhat less confrontational or politically charged side of Local Resident Failure, largely opting for a more personal direction.  Opener “Around The World” rattles off the protagonist’s willing destinations of travel to maintain affection.  “I’d pack my bags tomorrow if you wanted to run away…” calls Dal, rambling off an expansive list of global venues: “let’s cross the river nile, slide down Everest… naked jelly wrestling in Times Square… I’d go anywhere just to be with you.”  It’s cute, inconsequential and smirk inducing. Other songs like “Rockstar” poke fun at pop culture images like dime-a-dozen “tight black pants and a leather jacket” sporting auditioner typical of global phenomenon “The Voice.”

“Re-Opener” revisits some of these more domestic themes through a more afflicted lens.  The heavy hand of consequence lands for one of the most dire relationship-based skatepunk songs since No Use For A Name’s “Justified Black Eye.”  Imagery of complete emotional disarray and drowning one’s pain in alcohol and drugs mirrors the scattered, suicidal thoughts of failing mental health.  “Only one more thing to ask, pull the trigger or live a lonely life,” states the band, leaving this grief struck scenario on an inconclusive cliffhanger.

Curiously, only “Long Night” and “Roll On 2” explicitly dip into the waters of social justice.  The former paints a picture of orphans of war locked in persistent cycles of mistrust, and the latter a reflection as told from sitting on death row.  “Into The Unknown” loosely explores what it would take to unite humanity and forget our petty differences through a scene of alien invasion, but its a stretch at best.  Considering A Breath Of Stale Air’s targeted denunciation of racism, This Here’s The Hard Part’s political topics lack the same dynamism.

All in all though, This Here’s The Hard Part finds Local Resident Failure carrying on confidently with fourteen songs of the melodic skate-punk they know and love.  If that’s your thing, then Local Resident Failure is still one of your best bets down under.

Local Resident Failure – Old Skool

Pee RecordsAustralian punks Local Resident Failure are streaming a new song.  The track is titled “Old Skool” and is set to appear on their This Here’s The Hard Part via Pee Records on March 15, 2015.  

Listen to the song here.

Video: Driven Fear – D.S.O.S.

Pee RecordsAustralian hardcore-punk act Driven Fear has released a brand new song and music video.  The video features the song “D.S.O.S,” which serves as a sampling of the band’s followup to their 2011’s full length, Contender.  The track is available as a free download over on SoundCloud.

Watch the video below.

Read More…

Watch Your Step - Taking You Down WIth Me II

Watch Your Step

Taking You Down With Me II

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Fifteen quick hardcore blasts from this recently disbanded Italian group. It’s a pretty decent record – they’ve come up something that falls somewhere between Cut The Shit’s Harmed And Dangerous full-length and some of the early, more straight-forward stuff by Career Suicide. While Taking You Down With Me II doesn’t match the fury of the former or wonderful snottiness of the latter, it’s still a pretty mean twenty minutes.

While straight-forward hardcore has always been one of those genres that translates much better to me live than it does on record, the production here manages to carry a pretty solid punch – thick guitars, slightly fuzzed-out, in-the-red vocals, thick drums. The difficulty with stuff like this is that it’s just so hard to translate the urgency of a live show into a studio recording. While it looks like Taking You Down With Me II is the band’s swan song – and if you’re a fan of succinct, fast-blast hardcore – it’s a pretty decent one, I can’t help but think they were probably at the peak of their ferocity in some packed, sweat-drenched hall somewhere. Regardless, hardcore fans should definitely check it out.

Strength Approach - All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail

Strength Approach

All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

A couple years back I read a review that commented on the sudden upsurge of quality punk fueled hardcore coming out of Italy.  Consequently, when I learned that I would be reviewing Rome’s Strength Approach, I had some pretty high expectations.  And to top things off, their current label, Pee Records, found their 2008 release, All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail, so good they went ahead and reissued it a short year later.  So does Strength Approach live up to its geographic legacy and label’s enthusiasm?

Well, while not perfect, the short answer is yes.

Sounding somewhere between minimalist 80’s hardcore revivalists The Golden Age and Death Before DishonorStrength Approach features an unrelenting hardcore attitude lightly peppered with moments of choral melody.  Most tracks shift between these influences, creating anthemic moments also appreciable by violent mosh-pit goers.  Often, as heard in the album’s title track, after an initial barrage of guitars, drums, and shouting, an explosive chorus of gang vocals chimes in.  The vocals clearly elevate each track to memory, providing a sense of polish and direction.  The band gets the most mileage out of their “big” sound when they ease on the breaks and slightly reduce speed, as seen in “The Alarm.”

Strength Approach further bolsters their sound with a series of more subtle additions.  When the chaos scales back during intros and bridges, as evident in tracks like “Diealone” and “It’s Not Pessimistic, Just Realistic,” bassist Dominico provides some thick bass lines, giving these tracks a satisfying, “complete” feel.  Other subtleties include a range of guitar work including some clever scaling on “Every End Has A Start,” a hint of rock emerging throughout “Forked Tongue,” and a reoccurring strand of melody trying “In A Broken Stereo” together.  Many of these thoughtful extras go nearly undetected but play a huge part in the album’s success.

The reissue boasts three bonus tracks including two covers and an original tune.  The covers, Black Flag’s “Rise Above” and Sick Of It All’s “Pushed Too Far,” honour the group’s influences by remaining very close to the source material.  They’re both satisfying, but the new track, “Dead Wrong,” easily eclipses them as the reissue’s highlight.  “Dead Wrong” continues showcasing Strength Approach’s knack for making big choruses within thrashy song structures, and points to some very promising future endeavors for the band.

Clocking in at just over thirty-four minutes, All The Plans We Made Are Going To Fail’s eighteen tracks serve as a statement to the health of the Italian hardcore punk scene.  There’s nothing terribly fancy here, just a rock solid release held up by Strength Approach’s involved musicianship and undeniable passion for writing intense and infectious hardcore.

Safe Hands - Oh The Humanity

Safe Hands

Oh The Humanity

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Hardcore is a fickle style. I am, by no means, a well versed connoisseur of all the different factors, facets and faces of the style but I’ve listened enough to understand certain things about it. First off, there’s a lot of bullshit hardcore there. It’s there for the masses (masses being subjective of course). They throw some pop in there and heavy breakdowns to try and pass it off as hardcore. Others try to horribly mix in some synth and vo-coders into hardcore. These bands are ruining the real essence of hardcore.

Australia’s Safe Hands are the opposite of that. They are hardcore epitomize – and I mean true hardcore.

Now, someone more in touch with the minutiae of the genre may disagree with me to some degree; but they’d be hard pressed to ignore the fact that Safe Hands know what the hell they’re doing.

Oh The Humanity is heavy, searing stuff. At just over twenty-three minutes, the EP is harsh and corrosive. It plays through with intensity and leaves you wanting more. The record meanders between harsh, angry sections (Suture Self for example) and intricate, soothing, eerily beautiful guitar work (like on Black Spring). It’s a juxtaposition that is needed to keep the album fresh and inventive. Take I Told You I Was Ill. It begins with a minute and half long spoken word introduction and then simply explodes with pummelling drums and coarse vocals. A minute later they pull it all back – the vocals remain at the edge of destruction but the drumming becomes tamed and the guitar work flourishes. It then succumbs into the sound of madness; and not in a bad way.

The sheer intensity and emotion embedded into every song seeps out of it. I call it hardcore, but screamo could not another nomenclature used to describe Safe Hands; and just like hardcore, Safe Hands do the term “screamo” justice as well.

Insanely well produced, Oh The Humanity begs to be replayed and replayed.  As I’ve said, I’m not ultra well versed in the true intricacies of the style (I know more about the bands that bastardize it than the ones who do it justice) and so to find similar comparisons is difficult for me. But I do know that this is good, solid stuff and one I’ll be recommending to my hardcore friends in no time; and you should be too.

Remain Opposed - Time Waits For No One

Remain Opposed

Time Waits For No One

Pee Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

Fifteen years ago, Remain Opposed would have been the type of bands that mostly-reputable labels built their foundations on. Were these four Australians together in 1996 and from the United States, they most likely would have been one of those backbone bands that labels like Hopeless or Kung Fu relied on for their consistency and generated revenue. A band they could count on to tour faithfully, record albums that never strayed too far from their original sound, and sell a certain, established amount of copies. Which is fine, except that it’s fifteen years later and the stuff they’re playing sounds pretty dated now. None of it really leaps out and throws the listener around the room, something that seems pretty necessary if you’re gonna try and swing this particular sonic hammer these days.

While Remain Opposed are tilling the kind of melodic hardcore field that earlier bands have long since plowed through (Millencolin, how’s it going? Hey, Pulley!), they’re also adding some little metal garnishes – seriously, the beginning of “Somebody Elses Hero” (sic) sounds metal as fuck – that further seems to antiquate the band. I mean, they’re not bad at any of this – the production values are terrific, they’re more than competent players, etc. But it’s a sound that I grew very familiar with over the years, growing up during the “punk explosion” of the mid- and late-90s when labels like Fat Wreck and Epitaph(and Hopeless and Fearless and Liberation and etc.) were signing hundreds of bands that sounded exactly like this. But again, the musical landscape has changed since then, and Remain Opposed isn’t really doing anything to make someone as questionably jaded as me sit up and take notice.

Time Waits For No One is peppered throughout with a few soundbites, has a quick instrumental intro and plenty of solos that call into question the notion of good taste. The vocalist sounds like Fat Mike if he were attempting to sounds a bit more professional – the nasally quality is there, it’s just buried in a slightly deeper voice. Still, there’s potential: without the vocalist’s consistently nasal monotone, much of the music to “In The Midst Of Life We Are In Death” sounds like Dead Hearts or Killing The Dream, which is never a bad thing. And yet the next to last song, “Moneydrugsandkicks,” throws everything out the window when they go strangely rap rock – where previously they were espousing vaguely personal/political platitudes, they now lament the loss of the “rock n roll girl” and how the thought of her makes the singer touch himself. No joke. It’s this kind of weird schizophrenia that just acts like another nail in the band’s coffin.

So it seems like there’s two paths available to Remain Opposed. One, instruct Terry the pipesman to ditch the silly attempts at harmonizing and just fucking yowl his brains out. Embrace your metal side, boys. Go for it. Get dark and mean. Or two, drop the metallic flourishes altogether and just punk the shit up, you know? But this middle of the road, straddling-two-worlds shit just makes it sound like you guys were on an old Know Records compilation before you broke up in 1997.

Promises - Hopeless Sons

Promises

Hopeless Sons

Pee Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

A lot has been said about Australian hardcore quintet Promises – like the fact that they’ve existed for less than a year and already put out a label supported five-song EP.  And while one might expect it to sound like a scratchy, ill-envisioned demo, it sounds more like something from a group with a well-grounded footing.  Still, I can’t help but feel that their debut, Hopeless Sons, could have benefited from some greater time together.  It doesn’t feel rushed per-se, and not really one-dimensional, but it doesn’t do much for convincing me to care about Promises.

Now, before I start getting pelted with rotten vegetables and booed off stage, I’d like to say that Hopeless Sons certainly isn’t a write-off – quite the contrary really.  As far as mechanics go, Promises knows how to make the most of their five-member operation.  In fact, “No Story Left Untold” makes for a fairly compelling introduction.  The track opens with a very strong, guitar driven lead in, in which both Casey and Joe bounce back and forth minimally, ultimately picking up where each other leave off as they head towards a strong example of hardcore styled gang vocals (think Ruiner).  It’s big, effective, and actually got me pretty pumped for what lay ahead.

But then, somewhere along the line, they lost me.  Whenever they pipe up and belt as a group, I’m back in and have a grand time.  But when vocalist Zaca pipes up, my attention fades, regardless of concentration.  One time I even found myself counting the number of trees on the horizon as I looked out my desk window.  Now some may blame that on a wandering attention span, but I consider it a lack of engagement.  It’s an artist’s job to reach out and hook their audience, not my job to strain to pay attention.  From what I can tell, Zaca is a little too calculated.  Take a track like “Notes,” while it is instrumentally quite exciting, every word shares an inflection far too familiar in duration and expression to the last.  Even upon slowing their frenzied pace (as per “Forecast”) each word and phrase’s proportions remain too similar.  Even when their words of introspective wisdom sound good on paper, they don’t translate well given the style.

Overall, Hopeless Sons introduces a new band that might just be a little simpler than their initial confidence lets on.  To the band’s benefit, Promises demonstrates an undeniable chemistry, and there’s little ambiguity as to what they’re all about.  Still, other than the occasional moment of brilliance, Hopeless Sons plays it safe.  There’s enough here for a respectable listen, but nothing really commits to memory enough to award much staying power.  If their eventual full length stays on these tracks, it will still be listenable.  But if Promises takes some risks, it could be good – or even great.  Here’s to hoping for the latter.

Patriarchal Death Machine - Yes

Patriarchal Death Machine

Yes

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Patriarchal Death Machine – just the sound of the title feels like it could be thrown around regularly in an elitist masters student’s study group.  The sociologically inspired term swings the moralistic hammer of postcolonial judgment.  Based on the Australian group’s commitment to their anti-racist content, they’re clearly a band dedicated to furthering and publicizing the body of work that challenges oppressive contemporary governments.

We have a racist government that is controlling the lives of indigenous people in the northern territory, you need to be aware of the lies that exist, and the lies that are continuing, you can’t apologize one the one hand, and continue racist laws on the other.”  Australia has a long and controversial history of turning a blind eye to the displacement of the continent’s initial inhabitants, andPatriarchal Death Machine spares no expense at bringing that to light, speaking in opener “A Vulgar Display Of Brute Force, Ignorance, and Colonial Imperialism,” of a history that eliminated communities and displaced many people.  Beneath their angry, dissonant hardcore exterior, the band backs up their passion with education and academic research.  The second track actually serves as a solute to defiant student protests across the country.  Granted, these are radicals singing praise to forceful solutions and violent displays against what they call the “fascist right” and “police state,” but so is the language of academia.

The band is big on highlighting irony of themselves and others.  On “The Irony Of It All” they underscore the flaw of promoting violence for anti-violence, and on “Destroy This System” the irony of pet owners passively condoning animal testing.  A favourite quote comes from “The Scourge,” which finds a disgruntled foreigner being chastised for refusing a drink at a bar, only to have him fight back, pointing out the lunacy of taking offence over something so trivial while brushing aside major injustices.  In an addendum on the detailed liner notes (which also deserve a shout out) the band points out how readily accepted social drinking is in Australia, to the point where “four Australians under the age of 25 die due to alcohol related injuries in an average week,” and while it can serve a social lubricant, that there is a “fine line between lubricating and liquidating.”

Musically the band plays in a manor quite fitting their Pee Records roster.  In “The Irony Of It All” the band sums up their approach with rampant acceleration, screeching halts and forceful shouts slammed down with pounding riffs.  It brings to mind the lively Australian hardcore scene along the lines of Driven Fear and Strength Approach.  If it wasn’t for the blunt and specific nature of the group’s strong-minded ideals, they might fade into the scene, but with a voice this loud, I doubt they’ll ever stand to get lost in the backdrop.

For a pretty standard wedge of Australian hardcore, Patriarchal Death Machine stands out fairly well.  Yes brings a battle cry to an intellectual war that manifests itself as a struggle for control of the outback.  While the album might be a good history lesson, it’s still a much-needed reminder that such a legacy still haunts the present, and should never be buried.

Part Time Killer - People. Religion. Death.

Part Time Killer

People. Religion. Death.

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

“1000 miles away from home, and I’ll give you my heart, I’ll give you my soul, every single night on this tour, and it’s time for another amazing town, another amazing crowd, another amazing song, but no one sings along, and it’s breaking my heart,” sings vocalist Alex, voicing the plight of small bands everywhere on “Heartbreaking Music,” the opening track of Part Time Killer’s debut full length, People. Religion. Death.  Originating from Lahti, Finland, the energetic four-piece embraces the DIY ethos of 90’s melodic skate punk in the vein of Bad Religion and Pennywise.  They celebrate a classic, dying sound with a European twist perfect for those still hung up over Epitaph Records’ turn of the century shift.

Now if Alex’s sloppy, heavily accented voice (think Millencolin) rings a bell, you might remember him from his previous band, Flippin’ Beans (I was ready to make the comparison even before the band bio corrected me).  A relic existing the decade they pull their inspiration from, Flippin’ Beans called it a day in 2007 only to update their sound and relaunch with a new drummer a year later under the moniker Part Time Killer.  People. Religion. Death. is a natural progression in the band’s long history.  If Flippin’ Beans could be faulted for being a little too faithful to that early Millencolin sound, Part Time Killeracknowledges that even classic acts evolve over time.

Inserting hints of 80’s hardcore and rock, the quartet sharpens their teeth and hones their instrumental aggression.  “Teenage Tragedy” and “Saving The World” boast a razor sharp intro and reoccurring guitar solos, making every second of the track’s 1:34 run time heavy and distinct.  Thick, full bass lines thump rebelliously at the foundation of tracks like “Anti-Everything,” accenting those chorus-enhancing guitar licks.  Sami St. Hood (St. Hood) makes a guest appearance on “Story Of Your Life,” highlighting the instrumental inspiration of select tracks with New York City hardcore in the vein of Killing Time.  Meshed together under a comforting blanket of classic, bouncy punk rock full of Bad Religion inspired backing woahs and vocal harmonies, and steady No Use For A Name drumming, Part Time Killer infuse a contemporary outlook with classic EpiFat sensibilities.

Lyrically, the four-piece walks on the same path as their source material, sticking thematically close to their album title.  Most explicitly, songs like “Perfect Crime” and “Days of Insanity” speak out against religious corruption, and “Church And State” scolds religious groups for shaping government policies and agendas.  Other topics include genocide (“War”) and the conscience of war (“Freedom Fight”).  While all typical and never overtly profound, the subject matter remains just as relevant today as it did ten or twenty years ago – albeit less original.

Picking up right where Flippin’ Beans left off,Part Time Killer is a new incarnation of a familiar sound.  People. Religion. Death. combines just enough of the old with the new to justify the relaunch.  With a light peppering of heavy solos and hardcore mechanics, People. Religion. Death. is a safe and satisfying throwback for anyone with an appreciation for hook heavy melody and steady, political street punk.

One Vital World - Early Days

One Vital World

Early Days

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Australia’s One Vital Word opens on their latest EP, Early Days, sounding like a shoe-in for the Bridge Nine Records family, but by the end of the track feel more like an Epitaph Records alumni act.  In other words, the group takes off with a big hardcore showdown akin to the shouty aggression of Death Before Dishonor, eventually morphing into a faithful recreation of something along the lines ofPennywise or Pulley.

In a world where clean vocals meet hardcore often refers to the castrato-death crunch hybrid of regrettable bands like A Skylit DriveOne Vital Word dishes out a healthy serving of stylistic redemption.

Early Days promptly hits the nail on the head for both styles, pumping up listeners up for a well balanced, energetically belted combination of melody and frenzy.  Curiously, the best balance rests wedged in the middle track, “Afraid.”  Opening with blistering skate punk drumming matched quickly by an initial train of clean vocals, vocalist Owen Smith’s assertion that “your conscious hides behind this…” quickly leads to a flat throaty assault suiting the desperation of lines like “it’s better to live and win than lose…” and the nervous insistence inherent in the final repetition, “look at my eyes, I’m not afraid.”

Each style serves a communicative purpose, echoing and establishing each line’s intent.  For instance, “Ignorance” speaks of the world breaking from an ongoing rut, – Smith passionately crying “please put a smile on my face and I’ll happily return it,” dishearteningly raging about being “so caught in the moment, [that] we stay.”  The chorus challenges listeners in a moment of vocal clarity, fluidly illuminating the line “better we know why we are avoiding the problem” in the hopes that something good may still come from humanity’s grand mess.  Consequently, the message is passionate, and delivery powerful.

The final track, “Bury It,” singularly focuses on dark, barking hardcore.  While technically competent, the track misses the mark set by the rest of the EP, attesting to the importance of One Vital Word’s vocal variety for their success.  Owen Smith is a rare specimen these days – his chameleon-like performance placing him atop his peers, and the ease of his performance only limited by the ambition of any given track.

While Early Days is an impressive EP, I’d be curious to see Smith push his limits further, and truly test his bounds – not that he doesn’t already have plenty of edge over the competition.

Mindset - Midnight Sky

Midnight Sky

Mindset

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Melbourne, Australia’s Mindset is rather indicative of the region’s underground hardcore punk scene.  Discernable, lyric heavy, barked hardcore with plenty of tempo changes, technical ability, and fluctuating rhythms – they keep things heavy without going overboard.  In a region often stereotyped with bigger but overdone standards (see Parkway Drive), the five-piece exhibits enough ragged stylistic personality to bare the mark of one of the good guys.

Interestingly, for a group owing so much to frantic speed, they channel much of their scattered soundscape into something loosely resembling rhythm.  Take opener “Lever;” guitarists Adam Goral and Chaz Kim hammer heavily on their strings, fusing their rhythm and lead roles with the strength of A Wilhelm Screamand bluntness of their classically trained hardcore labelmates Strength Approach.  Consequently, tracks like “Teenage Ghosts” doubly exert youthful explosions and a technical mastery often characteristic of veteran acts.  There’s a lot going on here, and dissecting this beast is quite exhaustive.

I often neglect giving drummers props for outstanding performances, but I won’t be making that mistake with Daniel Emond.  In fact, Emond is largely responsible for the album’s active and fluctuating nature.  Song in, song out – between choruses, solos, bridges, intros and exits – Emond has no problem transitioning between head turning speed blasts and heart pounding thuds.  For example, Emond leads the change on countless occasions in “Continue” as he moves from fast to casual, and makes for an impressive metal spectacle on the dynamic but simply titled “instrumental.”

A quick glimpse in the lyric sleeve reveals a band breaking from the typical chorus-verse-chorus formula intent on making every moment count.  Mindset largely grapples with moralistic (ie. “Cremations”) and personal (ie. “Oceans,” “Everist”) issues, all the while delivering a clear and discernable message thanks to vocalist Matthew Nichols’ oddly pronounced clarity.  That being said, the band has yet to reach a point where particular moments and lines commit in memory.  Despite enjoying the disc I can’t confidently throw back any great lines or even list a standout song since they’re so prone to bleeding into each other without terrible distinction.  Despite the aforementioned tempo shifts, there is largely an air of sameness to track continuity.

Even so, Mindset offers some authentic hardcore punk that should stylistically satisfy an increasingly critical audience.  Those irked by the modern trend of Australian hardcore sounding predictably deep, dark, and guttural can find assurance knowing that there are still those in Melbourne taking a nod from the classics (read mid-80’s hardcore).

Lost In Line - Smiles that Scream

Lost in Line

Smiles that Scream

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Style is a cyclical thing, and punk rock’s pretty much no exception to that. Goes around, comes around, etc. Every few years we’ve got another dead horse to flog – remember the garage-rock fervor that sweptMaximum Rocknroll’s review section in the mid-to-late 90s, reaching such a fever pitch that the genre was virtually all they were reviewing or interviewing back then? So, shit, if it’s okay nowadays to relentlessly exhume the well-trod corpses of 1984-era hardcore or 1978 Dangerhouse-style punk – whatever, take your pick – then why shouldn’t bands still be kicking out signature Epitaph “melodic hardcore” like 1995 hadn’t already come and gone? Why the hell not?

When you consider it, Lost In Line must honestly love the living piss out of what they’re playing – because this type of music just isn’t moving units any more. The genre’s been cashed out for nearly a decade.Epitaph’s skate-rock roster has gone the way of hackneyed nu-metal and emaciated dudes with shitty haircuts playing a painful concoction of “shrieking metal/hardcore coupled with pretty, melodic singing parts.”

I mean, skate-rock’s played out, dude. It isn’t 1995 anymore, and it never will be again. The point is, I’m sure Lost In Line knows that.

So it’s obvious that if the band – with their metronomic, kick-heavy drumming, charging guitars that weave around noodling high-end solos and a vocalist that can really sing and hit all the perfect notes – wants to sound almost exactly like Pulley or Ten Foot Pole did over ten years ago, which they do, it’s because they want to. They’re good enough musicians that they could be copying whatever flavor-of-the-month genre is hot right now. Instead, they’re playing this over-and-done-with melodic skate-rock shit, which I find a little endearing, if only for nostalgic purposes.

So that’s it. It’s tight, melodic hardcore that can snap off a solo or tech drumfill or a layered vocal whoa-whoa on a dime. Spot-on production that could’ve been done at Westbeach back in the day. Lyrics that discuss personal issues in that requisitely vague manner – but they’re actually a nod or two above the general crap that often gets passed off with the genre. To sum it up, I don’t know if I’ll ever play this thing again, but Lost In Line are definitely good at what they’re doing, and they’re doing it decisively.

Local Resident Failure - A Breath of Stale Air

Local Resident Failure

A Breath of Stale Air

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Pee Records may just be one of the most interesting punk record labels to make its mark over the past five years.  Exclusively highlighting those punk acts based down under that struggle to breakout outside of their geography, the label has earned somewhat of a reputation for being “The Fat Wreck Chords of Australia.”  The label has introduced me to bands like Part Time KillerBurning Fiction, and now Newcastle’s Local Resident Failure.

Clearly inspired by the jewels of the Fat Wreck dynasty, including NOFXNo Use For A Name, and of course countrymen Frenzal RhombLocal Resident Failure offers a familiar sounding debut that skirts plagiarism with their undeniably authentic execution.  As implied in its namesake, A Breath Of Stale Air might sound like it belongs back in 1997, but only because it sounds so damn true to its roots in spirit and style.  Even those they emulate would be hard pressed to produce anything this pure on the skatepunk spectrum.

“The Opener” kicks off the album with a particularly melodic dose of punk rock that builds up from a harmonious vocal heavy intro and explodes into a fast, loud, sonic battering brimming with youthful attitude and confrontational themes.  “They knew it couldn’t happen from the start, their family would always say that this would never last” sings frontman Michael Dallinger as he exposes racist views on inter-racial couples that those of former generations continue to impose.  It’s a strong, purposeful opening sure to catch the ear of anyone with a social conscious.  They revisit the topic with optimism for change in “Sad Beginning, Happy Ending.”  The theme is a strong one, which they turn on its head a few tracks later with “Playing The Race Card,” evidencing the band’s very complete understanding of contemporary racial dialogues.

It’s not all frowns and finger wagging though, and it becomes obvious early on that Local Resident Failure’s snarky attitude and tongue-in-cheek sarcasm fuels their drive.

For instance, the band has a good bit to say about their aging punk rock heroes.  “(Still) Kickin’ On” calls out those classic punk acts that seem to have been playing crappy dives their whole their careers.  “Geriatric punk rock is their game” accuses Dallinger, pointing out with their quick wit that in spite of their saturation they must be doing something right: “sitting in their wheelchair staring into blank air, losing all their hair but does anybody care… I’ll still be watching them when I turn 54.”  With PennywiseBad Religion, and more accurately lesser acts like SNUFU and D.O.A. still going strong from the 80’s I think most of us fans can relate.  But they’re not done yet.  “Nowhere To Be Scene” takes another cheeky jab at aging punk rockers and how “they’re all moving on, writing slower songs” – the two obvious solo greats coming mind being Joey Cape and the late Tony Sly (rest his soul).  Still, the band is so playful in delivery (changing tempo and pulling out the upstroke) that you can tell they love celebrating rather than criticizing their idols, and it makes for a good chuckle.

As should be made obvious from my volume of content descriptions, I really enjoy Local Resident Failure’s offerings.  It’s nothing new – at all – but it’s incredibly fresh and sincere.  I find myself forging a stronger connection with the album after each listen – so it’s safe to say that it’s not just a case of stylistic nostalgia (although that’s definitely a huge draw).  When all is said and done, A Breath Of Stale Air is one of the best 90’s albums written twenty years too late.  So if NOFX is your thing, definitely get to know Local Resident Failure.

Hightime - Ishi Prende

Hightime

Ishi Prende

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Hightime’s an interesting hybrid here – they’re certainly traveling some well-worn musical paths, while tossing in a few additional ingredients and always, always keeping the momentum going. I mean, they’ve chosen a strange plot to till (90s punk/ska with flamenco flourishes, anyone?) but the disbelief is suspended: they’ve convinced me. This stuff is not bad at all.

Sure, there are cringeworthy moments – the incessant jazz noodlings in “Share Your Smokes” is a good example. The guitarist seems literally incapable of not putting little runs of notes in between his riffs, which tends to sound a bit silly after a while. And visually the band is doing everything wrong (Comic Sans fonts, goofy skeleton art, etc.), enough so that I initially dreaded listening to this record. And yet… and yet…Ishi Prende, in spite of all this, totally works. It’s a little goofy and a little theatrical and musically indulgent, but screw it – Hightime is a fun, confident band that sounds like they’re having a blast.

The vocalist’s voice is clear and, at times, searing, her lyrics are smart, and musically, a lot of this shit’s pretty ferocious – blitzkrieg hardcore bursts with frenetic ska sections thrown in, similar to stuff Against All Authority or the Suicide Machines did. Counter that with the ease and deft handling of a reggae-infused tune like “Plug Your Feet” and it’s clear that Hightime is most likely one of those bands made up of a bunch of musicians that could probably play whatever genre they wanted to. And ska punk, as far as I know, has never really come close to matching the cultural and commercial zenith it did fifteen years ago, so it seems that there’s not much of a bandwagon left to jump on. All of this points to the fact that Hightime is most likely doing this simply because they dig it – and a lot of that infectiously playful quality shines through.

I wasn’t expecting much from Ishi Prende, and was definitely surprised at just how catchy and consistent it was. Call Hightime a throwback band if you want; I think they’ve crafted a record that’s just new and manic enough to avoid sounding like a throwback, and I picture Ishi Prende getting some continuous plays around here. I enjoyed this.

In The Face Of War - We Make Our Own War

In The Face Of War

We Make Our Own Luck

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

We Make Our Own Luck was released in 2006 through Detournement Records. I never heard it when it was released and that’s probably a good thing because back then there’s no way I could have sat through it. It’s two years later and my tastes have changed and evolved a bit just in time for the Australian release of the CD. Even now I’m surprised I like it so much since the hardcore sound isn’t one that normally captures my ears, but there’s something in the delivery of the songs that is incredibly attractive which makes it almost impossible to put down the CD.

Normally that would mean that the record is rather catchy but that’s not the case for In The Face Of War. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. There’s an odd melodic portion scattered throughout the release but for the most part, “melodic” or “catchy” is the last way to describe the release. Instead, We Make Our Own Luck is an abrasive mixture of perfectly controlled chaos. With heavy, hardcore guitar riffs, distinct and pulsating drum beats, ITFOW borrows elements from the likes of Botch and Modern Life Is War. It’s frantic, chaotic and built on pure energy, never giving a moments rest.

But the real power of the release doesn’t always come from the intensity, instead it comes from the vocal delivery on the album. While the gang vocals often help cement the sense of unity found in the hardcore community, it is when Ben Sutton goes off on his own that the band captures your attention. Sutton’s vocals are not overly unique or special per say but there is something there that just grabs your ears. With tinges of The Unseen or a more frenetic Dear Tonight (These Wires era), Sutton stays on course with many vocalists from various hardcore bands but there seems to be a dispatched sense of urgency and passion deep within them that are missing in so many releases of this genre. This extra pinch of sincerity lifts We Make Our Own Luck out of the pack, giving the record a sound that stands out more than I would have ever thought possible.

On top of the impassioned, worn out vocals is the straight forward, striking lyrics. Written in a free flow format, the lyrics take the listener on a trip through the confused mind of an young man. There are songs of friendship within the scene (August, Second Home and If You Only Knew My Friends), songs of unity (Here We Are, Here and Now), songs of passion (Lost Heart), unsought questions (Victims) and growing up (Who Will Be There). Written in prose, the lyrics are direct and don’t hide a single thing and the record improves because of it. It may be corny, but as I sit in my old bedroom with the teenage mutant ninja turtle borders, lyrics like “it seems like only yesterday / that bike riding, ninja turtles and grape kool-aid were day to day / but it’s been so many years and a few things have changed” seem oddly real.

In The Face Of War have delivered an album for both fans and non fans of hardcore. It is fresh and rejuvenating in it’s delivery while staying true to it’s form and influences. It is when I hear bands like this that I have hope again because it proves there is real hardcore out there ready to be heard in dingy clubs around the world.

Driven Fear - Society’s Finest

Driven Fear

Society’s Finest

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Australia’s Driven Fear plays hardcore and punk so close to the line that they blur any good attempt at distinguishing between the two.  Instead, as is clear with their latest release, the ironically titled Society’s Finest, this is a band that doesn’t discriminate between camps.  Sometimes vocalist Tim reaches deep inside and sets forth all his demons; for others he and his crew scales back their chunky riffs with guitarist Chris assuming a hoarse, weathered streetwise tone.  In any case, their influences come and go as they please, making Society’s Finest a punchy album with a mind of its own.

As far as lyrics go, Driven Fear certainly takes after its punk lineage.  These aren’t angry, self-defeating anthems; no, these are politically fueled rallying cries that strive for social justice. Opener “Keep In Check” kicks off with a challenge for listeners: turn off your societal autopilot and engage that brain.  When Tim pipes up and states the obvious, “every action starts with a thought;” it goes without saying that for the next twenty-five minutes listeners have the chance to shed “the fear of what may come,” “let it go,” and ditch the oppression that ultimately disguises itself has daily “choice.”

But when it comes to the music, they drench their discontent in pure aggression.  Give a listen to “Laugh At The Monkeys” and hear Tim and Chris angrily power through a surprisingly poetic sequence that blends humour with a grim picture of the corporate world’s dehumanizing effects: “see the monkeys run around in their own funny way.  It’s so funny cause they keep it going through the day.  They live life from pay to pay.  They want to keep moving up so they’ll step on you on the way.”  Admittedly, this twisted humor could have been an opportune time to employ a little creative license and break out from their strict hardcore path, but that’s more of a personal wish than a true fault.  Even so, Society’s Finest has a good bit of variety for what it is.  They never dwell on a given tempo too long, nor do they exhaust a given vocal or musical style.  Take the shouty gang vocals on “Enough.” When inserted between frenzied outbursts and hardcore raggers, they offer just enough direction to appease punks and hardcore fans alike.

Driven Fear is a strong dose of hardcore punk without the pitfalls of a glossy hardcore scene, and benefiting from a punk’s revolutionary view of the world.  Society’s Finest is a quick-witted and razor tongued statement.  But importantly, it also offers hope.  When the album winds down listeners are treated to “New Beginnings,” a track meant to inspire those looking to break free from the corporate machine.  With the benefit of hindsight Tim yells hopefully “with clenched fists and a clear head, new beginnings were in sight,” to which he confirms “Love where I’m at.  Love where I’m going.  Love these new beginnings.”

Oddly enough lyrics have become a focal point for this review.  For that I can thank the CD’s accompanying liner notes – something I see as essential in a genre that can drown out precision with overbearing emotion.  Other bands and labels should take note.

Decline - Are You Gonna Eat That?

The Decline

Are You Gonna Eat That?

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Controversial artwork pushed The Decline’ Are You Gonna Eat That? out in front of the pile of CDs I had to review and I quickly threw it in to see what this unknown band from Australia could deliver. It turns out that they were well worth the attention the artwork garnered them as Are You Gonna Eat That? immediately brought me back to when I first started getting into the whole punk rock game.

For at that time, Epitaph were the kings of the punk world. Their brand of melodic skate-punk was unmatched and each album was created with great anticipation. The Decline reminds me of those days, as they stick to the melodic skate-punk mold perfectly. It’s a modern day No Fun At All mixed with an Australian accent akin to Frenzhal Rhomb. Their breakneck drumming points towards that of Lagwagonor early Millencolin while more than just their name reminds me of NOFX.

On Excuse Me they pull in some modern references with a verse that would fit nicely in a Set Your Goals album but otherwise, they stick mostly to the balls-to-the-walls skate-punk. Harsh vocals on tracks like Human Exports sound like Antillectual while harmonies on Worlds Apart II make you instantly want to sing along with the politically driven lyrical message. A tight bass line opens up The Financial Equivalent  Of A Complete Rectal Exam nicely before they jump into one of the more fun tracks on the album, with layered vocals mocking bands like Farewell in a ever so subtle way; while the bass intro to Rooftops is pulled directly from 88 Finger Louie66B is NOFX mixed with Strung Out with the catchiest bridge of the album. Even the slow acoustic ballad 2006 throws back to Yellowcard with the violin and female vocals.

While the musical structure of the album is by far the highlight here – they’re socio-political message comes through in a rather positive way as well. Touching on animal rights, immigration and child labour, Are You Gonna Eat That? entices the listener to open up the lyric booklet and read a little deeper (like One Win Choice) and that adds yet another facet to the album.

The Decline sing about touchy subjects in a well written manner and wrap those lyrics in a energetic punk rock package that deserves to heard by anyone who calls themselves a fan of the mid-nineties skate-punk scene.

Damn The Empire - With Trends Like These

Damn The Empire

With Trends Like These

Pee Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Australia’s Damn The Empire formed with the intention of creating angry, gimmick-free, tongue-in-cheek punk rock and with their debut album, With Trends Like These…, it is plainly evident that the band successfully completed what they set out to do.

The album blasts through sixteen tracks in just over twenty minutes, and in those twenty minutes the band delivers more than most bands nowadays do in twice the time period. It’s a blistering onslaught of melodic hardcore that tips their head to Strike Anywhere, Pennywise and Ignite all the while creating their own unique sound and style. The minute-long songs are built with a thunderous and hollow drum backbone, heavy guitar riffs and vocals that mix eighties hardcore screams with more welcoming gang vocals to create songs that call the listener to action, making them sing along in unison while pumping their fist in the air.

In a way they remind me of One Win Choice, another relatively obscure band fighting the good fight and bringing the hardcore back into melodic hardcore. They’re a band doing what they want in a way that will surely incite some notice and attention from fans all over the globe. The songs are short bursts of anger being released through pointed lyrics of sociopolitical insight. Blackwatership Down, which features the best sing-along chant in the album,attackBlackwater Worldwide’s involvement in the Iraq war (Why would anybody want to die for their country?/There’s a profit to be made from death / protecting someone else’s greed./ All hail the Department of Capital Defense/the only place a dead man’s dollar/still makes any sense). The songs on With Trend Like These…. are little reminders of what lyrics can be about, seeking out change and pointing out the problems with society, a rebellious act that once served as punk’s back bone.

Damn The Empire isn’t all angst and fury at the world and government and do occasionally look inwardly upon the descent of the music scene. Take The Last Gaps of An Entire Scene Neutered which sees them screaming “We’re Angry (So What), We’re Spiteful (Let’s Fight), We still write protest songs for old time’s sake, so get in the pit and wait for the breakdown. Scenes now are just meaningless escapes” or This Free Music Download Brought To You Courtesy of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich who’s topic can be guessed by the title and you’ll see that the band isn’t only thinking of things on a large scale.

With Trends Like These… is a straight up old school punk rock album and one that will get the blood flowing and energy rising in any fan of hardcore.

Burning Fiction/Jet Market/Part Time Killer

Burning Fiction/Jet Market/Part Time Killer

Split

Pee Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Pee Records has made quite a name for itself for a minor independent label based out of Australia.  Mostly known for bands featuring an authentic blend of hardcore and punk, the label also houses some notable melodic talent – but these group’s are often overshadowed; or at least until now.  In a move that will undoubtedly promote their growing identity, the label has released a three way split featuring the melodic skate-punk styling of long time resident Burning Fiction, and newcomers Jet Market and PartTime Killer.  The result is a twelve track disc serving up enough melodic fury to turn the heads of anyone who thought they knew what Pee Records was about.

Burning Fiction kicks things into high gear early on, flashing their metal-guided chords with furious fingers that would make Strung Out proud.  Ever since first reviewing their breakout disc, Do Not Touch, the band’s combination of technicality, speed, and backing harmonies made them quick to stand out as my personal favourite on the label’s growing roster.  These four tracks make good on their promise, measuring up to their already high standard.  Highlights include the layers upon layers of gang sections, escalation, and the extra guitar flare of “In All Our Glory.” The fantastically entertaining bridge in “The Grip” even goes as far as to feature a very non-gimmicky electric violin (making for a pleasantly unexpected Zox comparison).

Burning Fiction’s rock solid skate punk makes for a tough act to follow, but Jet Market clearly meets the challenge.  While Burning Fiction centres around technicality, Jet Market lives for speed.  These tracks speed along as quick as they come without flying off their rails.  The band defines itself with a set of deeper – and certainly sloppier – vocals, and a ton of shouty, gang vocals circa Four Year Strong.  “Tonight Tonight” captures the band in their element as they pour their hearts out, speedily dropping lyrics as if racing against the clock.  All four tracks hold up well, despite each track feeling decidedly less distinct than those of Burning Fiction.

And then there’s the black sheep of the family, PartTime Killer.  Whereas Jet Market and Burning Fiction boasted a tough underlying edge, Part Time Killer kicks up their feet and winds the party down with a stress-free vibe.  Sounding as if originating from central Europe (Finland to be exact), the three-piece exists somewhere between the barebones pop punk of Bankrupt and the sloppy slurs ofMillencolin’s accented voices.  Oddly enough, from a lyrical standpoint Part Time Killer stands tallest of the bunch.  They’re not particularly profound, but they’re direct, catchy, and at their heart, insightful.  Take “Thank You” for instance.  Vocalist Alex Aaltola yelps “Thank you for the pain/Thank you for the chains/Thank you for the wasted years I’ll never be the same” as he jokingly embraces the ride while watching the world crumbling around him.  Likewise, the juxtaposed grim lyrics and joyous attitude of “Wake Up” make for a lively affair.

You won’t find much to complain about on this three way split.  While I’m still partial to Burning Fiction, each player pulls their weight just fine, standing apart from the last.  I hope those who might have already dismissed Pee Records as a hardcore label will take note of this three way split and at least give it a listen – they might just be surprised.

Burning Fiction - Don't Lose Touch

Burning Fiction

Don’t Lose Touch

Pee Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Australia’s Burning Fiction is the type of band I love running across at least a couple times a year.  The group is a relatively new bare-bones punk rock upstart content to meaningfully contribute to a very well established and tight knit genre.  In other words, the five-piece is clearly not in it to be the next big punk innovation, but rather to help respect and celebrate the legacy that became known as the distinct 90’s “Epi-Fat” sound.

At its core, the band sounds precisely like what you would expect a group who cites LagwagonNo Use For A NameStrung Out, and A Wilhelm Scream as their favourite artists, to end up like.  Vocalist Matty B. channels a distinct high-pitched Joey Cape/Tony Sly style that easily captures the sloppy and playful execution of their source material.  The first two tracks, “Ode” and “Die Trying” ease the listener in with some fairly straightforward Lagwagon inspired melodies.  Complete with blistering drumbeats and melodic guitar work, these tracks feel more like Lagwagon than anything Lagwagon has released over the past ten years.

Then “Walk Hard” starts and a sudden barrage of ambitious metal guitar work explodes forth.  Here a definite Strung Out influence immediately takes hold of guitarists Piper and Pete, as they create a multilayered, aggressive soundscape.  The technique hits its pinnacle four songs later with “The Enlistment,” where guitar solos run rampant and technical ambition unfolds.  To up the ante and further feed the fury Matty suddenly explodes into raw, throaty, A Wilhelm Scream-like cry.  Despite wearing all of their influences on their sleeves, when Burning Fiction puts them together, they sound fresh and alive, and distinctly their own – imitation may be flattery, but amalgamation just outright sounds good.

Lyrically, they’re right up there with their influences as well.  Most tracks are introspective and politically charged.  “With The Grain,” an obvious play off of the Bad Religion track titled oppositely, speaks of the consequences of conformity, and many others, like “Paper Scissors,” act as a call to moral arms and conscious – strong messages with a strong delivery.

I suppose some may argue that Don’t Lose Touch trumpets a past sound, but personally I feel that there is always room for a skillful revisiting of past trends, making Burning Fiction an easy recommendation for those who enjoy revisiting that fast, aggressive 90’s Epi-Fat sound.