Absolute Truth Where Does It Start? cassette

Some straightedge hardcore now from Chicago’s ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Ultimately, this is some by-the-numbers youth crew stuff. Certainly not bad, but it’s also not too interesting. When this type of hardcore isn’t done perfectly it just kinda puts me to sleep—unfortunately, this release isn’t any different.

Abstain Infirm of Purpose 12″

In a day and age where heavy/heavier hardcore is dominated by BULLDOZE wannabes, this edge powerhouse really stands out against the grain. While the band is ultimately indebted to heavy edge bands of the ’90s (think Belgian H8000 bands such as CONGRESS’ first 7” and LENGTH OF TIME), what it lacks in technical, prolonged solos is made up for here with a stronger element of UNBROKEN, Satisfaction-era HATEBREED, and even New Jersey’s RESSURECTION (to an extent). By no means is this some tragic ode to desiring to be a part of a different time, as the band take influence from newer bands, with the vocal style sounding somewhat similar to New England’s BROKEN VOW. For me, a particular highlight came with the opening of the second song, “Faced With A Choice,” which is nothing other than brilliant. They show a lot of promise here, so here’s hoping for a stellar LP someday.

Bent Blue Between Your and You’re cassette

Fast, emotive, melodic punk with elements of crew and a heavy ’90s drive. An excellent mash of DC and SoCal hardcore with a solid ’90s > ’80s influence ratio—it’s great when they unleash in the middle of “Influence Me,” but the fleshy part of the song owes more to Revolution Summer than TEEN IDLES, if you know what I mean. And then there’s “Rungless Ladder,” which is just a top-notch, hook-laden Y2K burner…in-your-face guitars and a classically thin bass punch, while you can practically see the singer clutching his shirt in earnest while he screams. Presentations are on-point with doses like “We live a life of misinformation / They call us the lost generation”—these dudes know exactly what they are doing.

Berthold City When Words Are Not Enough LP

I’ve been following this band since early on in their career and own both of their EPs, so I was beyond stoked when an LP was announced—as hoped, it does not disappoint. Angry, fast, no-frills, classic straightedge hardcore that will always stand the rest of time. Unlike some bands that attempt this style, BERTHOLD CITY fucking nails it. A lot of the time, bands in this style overdo it with the gang vocals, or for whatever reason get overly metal with the guitars. None of that here, though. The gang vocals are inserted in the perfect places and there’s no hint of metal guitar parts anywhere! To me this is a near perfect hardcore record that, if I did one, would certainly be near the top of my year-end top ten list. This record fucking rips. My only gripe would be that the first run of vinyl sold out before I could grab a copy.

Cinderblock Breathe the Fire LP

CINDERBLOCK was an early ’90s hardcore band from Buffalo, NY whose members would go on to bands like EARTH CRISIS, SNAPCASE, TERROR, etc. Unlike the more metallic sounds of those bands, this collection of songs is much more melodic-leaning. These songs were originally written back in the early ’90s but recorded fairly recently, giving a fresh outlook to a throwback sound. I find myself going back for repeated listens, although I could see this not appealing to everyone.

Enact Promo 2021 cassette

Two songs here from this Portland, OR-based band. The first song is a pretty basic run-of-the-mill hardcore song. Gang vocals, pick slides, “fuck you, you can’t hold me down/back” lyrical content, etc. The second song, however, is where this tape does its job and gets me interested in hearing more. “Rose” is about a grandmother who has passed away. Musically, it’s much more melodic than the first song, and lyrically and vocally you can tell that this song means a lot to the person singing it, as it should when writing and singing about something personal. The lyrics in the song that are sung in Spanish are what really hooked me, especially the chorus, as it is something I’ve heard my wife say to our child for years. My only gripe here would be that I would have liked to have heard maybe one more song, but that’s on me.