hardcore

The Broken Few - We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves

As Fall encroaches (hopefully) upon us, we're settling in with a good book and a good band. This time it's Providence, Rhode Island quintet The Broken Few. The post-hardcore screamo band bring out the sad boy in us all, and for the month of October, that's what we're into.

(Shut up, Mom this isn't a phase)

Way back in April, The Broken Few released We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves, a 9-track album that pushes and pulls at the innards of anyone who stumbles upon it. The Broken Few includes members Eddie Cote (Vocals), Joe Landriana (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Cordon (Bass), Jordon Collard (Drums), and Chris Michaels (Guitar) to create a nice slice of what you instrumentally like about post hardcore with the screams to go along with it.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

The Broken Few Tracklist:
1. Fuck Yeah, Bob Saget
2. Axe Body Spray
3. Smile
4. Winter
5. Hey Jealousy
6. Rose
7. To Whom It May Concern
8. You Don't Know Me
9. Wander

 



Opening track "Fuck yeah Bob Saget" lures listeners into to something that isn't always going to be very funny, but that's ok. I really dig the vibe of this album, it's soft in nature (or probably just recording), and it sneaks up on listeners in a lot of ways. I prefer this album instrumentally, and when Cote is singing rather than screaming, the tracks feel a little more impactful. Some tracks have an inconsistent type of vocal depth to them, one where I wish they'd choose between the two styles. 

For the most part, tracks 1-5 were preferred over the latter half of the album. They felt the most consistent, heartfelt and well put together. I wanted more tracks like that where I could get lost in sharing those feelings with the band as they pull them out of the listener. Overall, I like The Broken Few. I want to listen to more music for them and I want them to do well. I wonder where their path will take them in the future, and what things they want to hold onto or let go - and We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves is an ode to a time in which they did just that.

To keep up with The Broken Few, check out their social media down below!

The Broken Few: Bandcamp // Facebook

Franchise - Ghost Light Review

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Post-hardcore empaths, Franchise, have recently pushed their newest release, Ghost Light, for fans and listeners. The July 14th release is their most recent, and definitely heartfelt, heart-throb of an EP.

Produced by Jess Cannon (Man Overboard, Senses Fail, Transit), the 5-track EP bleeds itself dry for listeners thanks to core members Kenny Collette (vox/guitar), Edgar Martinez (guitar), Mark Costa (bass), and Corrado Rizzi (drums). 

Check out the tracklist below!

 

 

With a melodic background, the 5-track EP ebbs and flows between each track it explores. "Take It Or Leave It" bellows listeners into exactly where Franchise wants them to be. Disoriented between empathic, bruising emotions. With the harshness of Collette's voice against a tight knight instrumental beat, this opening track shoves you into Franchise's moment. 

"Empty Machine" and "Contact" dissipate into a more alternative sound, with an introspective vocal and pronounced chord that makes you want to move along with it. "Contact" was a really emotional listening experience for myself, especially in comparison to the rest of the album, a quiet track that speaks volumes where the lyrics don't exist. "Finally Meet You" brings listening energy back up to where opening track "Take It Or Leave It" brought us. However, I was a bit surprised by the order of the last few tracks on the EP, it seemed out of place for "Finally Meet You" to precede "Blood In The Water" which felt more similar to "Contact" or "Empty Machine" and I wonder about the choice of it as the final track on the album. 

Overall, I'm really into this jarring, moving EP. Ghost Light speaks volumes in the space it is allowed to breathe. The melodic elements of Franchise make the music exciting to listen to. While the band isn't doing anything particularly new, they are making something their own that feels familiar but new all at once. Ghost Light is sure to pull on your heart strings with the heavy hand it deals the listener. 

Check it out on bandcamp, or take a peek at Franchise's social media to stay up to date with everything the band is up to!

Franchise: Facebook // Website

Years End - Ring Of Bone Review

The EP Ring Of Bone by Year’s End is an overall powerful collection of songs, with a sound that will throw you back to the years where The Devil Wears Prada ruled over your MP3 player. While there are some moments that incorporate heavy djent elements, they compliment the music and are not out of place with the direction this EP took. All things considered, Year’s End did a fantastic with Ring Of Bone, and it’s something new to pull off of post-hardcore’s dusty shelf.

Check out the tracklist below!

Ring Of Bone Tracklist:
1. War Town
2. Stargazer
3. The Only Living Boy in the Mid Atlantic
4. Old Hands
5. Black Lodge
6. Sans Amour
7. Indigo
8. Locust Grove
9. Prime
10. I Saved Latin, What Did You Ever Do?

 

 

Ring of Bone starts off strong with “War Town,” driving you to understand just how trapped Freeman feels. His vocals are a refreshing sound that have slight hints to Like Moths To Flame’s Chris Roetter’s abilities. It is clear with just the first song that this band was heavily influenced by the post-hardcore bands that raised anyone who listened to the genre, and that they won’t forget just how much the sound has impacted them as people. Something to really love about this band is that by listening to their music, you get a good sense of just how invested they would be during a live show. It’s clear to see, especially in songs like “The Only Living Boy In the Mid-Atlantic” and “Old Hands,” where you can just feel yourself in the pit at their show. These songs cause a knee-jerk reaction in me to want to scream their lyrics back to them.

With that said, they also do have a calmer song on their EP called “Indigo,” that pulls the heavy and fast-paced feel of the track back several steps and makes you reflect on how quickly you can go from 100 back down to zero in a few seconds. Personally, through all of it, this is probably my favorite track from the compilation, really bringing my focus back to center before picking me up and revving me back to life with the very relatable song “Locust Grove.” As one comes to the end of the EP, the track “I Saved Latin, What Did You Ever Do?” really closes it out with a solid feeling, and a relatable message of self-loathing. The track is a firm close to the collection, and really gives one a solid understanding of what this band set out to do when they combined their efforts to create these tracks.

All of the tracks on Ring Of Bone were written, tracked, mixed and produced very well. The Stick To Your Guns type of feeling that these songs give you will have you regret you missed their show with My Ticket Home in 2015, and have you hoping to see them out with Like Moths To Flames. It would be easy to see these guys being signed to InVogue or Fearless Records in the upcoming years, and hopefully they’ll pursue this passion that they have cultivated into a true talent. While there’s always room for improvement, hats off to all the members of Year’s End, and cheers to your bright future.

To keep up with Years End, check out their social media to follow along with anything that's coming out soon!

Years End: Facebook 

My Iron Heart - Beatitude Americana Review

Out of Newark, New Jersey comes Progressive Metal band, My Iron Heart. The quintet is celebrating the recent release of their EP, Beatitude Americana. This is their first release since 2013, and is an exciting step forward for the NJ quintet. 

The four-track EP was produced/mixed/recorded by Michael Cozine, and mastered by Rick Essig, My Iron Heart consists of Jake DeZerga (Vocals), Michael Cozine (Guitar), Jason Mallonga (Bass), Evan Daniele (Drums), and Rob Birchwood (Keys). Following a short hiatus, My Iron Heart is finally back with Beatitude Americana, released May 12, 2017. According to their own words, they hoped that Beatitude Americana would be a testament to the new and the old, to turn heads, to excite listeners.

Check out the tracklist below, and keep reading to find out if we agree with them!

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Beatitude Americana Tracklist:
1. Cheeky Nandos
2. Mr. Popo
3. Carbon Beach 04:56
4. Transmorphism 03:17

 

 

 

 

 

"Cheeky Nandos" opens up the EP, and is a good example of how the EP fluctuates between a progressive metal and a melodic metal sound. I took into consideration previous albums from My Iron Heart, including their 2013 release, Guardian to understand My Iron Heart's process!

What I found interesting about My Iron Heart, and especially Beatitude Americana in comparison to previous albums was that Beatitude Americana seemed to be taking a small step back from the heavier hardcore/death metal styles and infusing prog metal and metalcore into this 4-track EP. Tracks like "Mr. Popo," and "Transmorphism" do this especially.

A standout track off of the EP is "Carbon Beach," as it seems to start of WAY more pop punk than I intended or expected. The track helps anchor the EP while also keeping the rhythm steady for "Transmorphism" to finish out.

Overall, interesting take for their most recent release. I am curious as to what direction My Iron Heart is interested in going in, but generally their music is hard hitting and fast, so that's always fun for those aggro-music lovers. It's a short, hard little EP that wants to earn your respect, so let it.

For more on My Iron Heart, and what they're up to, check out their social media below!

My Iron Heart: Facebook // Instagram

Our Wits That Make Us Men - The Manifesto

As ambitious as it is draining, The Manifesto is an album of hits and misses. However, when it hits, it shakes you to your core.

The Manifesto is the debut release from Clifton, NJ screamo band Our Wits That Make Us Men, and it is pretty daunting at first look.  Seventeen tracks is a lot for an album, and I will say right off the bat that going through the entire release in one go left me pretty fatigued at the end of it. It’s a lot to process. However, provided you can make it through the scale of the project, you can find some quality tracks throughout it.  

The Manifesto Tracklist:
1. Mo(u)rning
2. Pine Box
3. Holy Father Franklin
4. Penance
5. Blood
6. Fodder for Dreams
7. No Meaning
8. Reflection
9. Manifesto
10. Fiveeight
11. Death to False Idols
12. Bloody Justice
13. Refugee Song
14. Trigger Warning
15. Save You
16. You Are Love
17. The Silhouettes of Trees

The sound is highly-reminiscent of La Dispute, which is a given considering that the album is a mix of post-hardcore, scream-o and spoken word.  The differentiation, however, is that some of the albums more “out there” tracks are really, really weird. It’s very artistic and poetic but if you’re not into that kind of thing or you’re just listening for the music, it’ll throw you off. Nevertheless, if you’re going to take the spoken word route, you need to be pretty artistic with the pen and Dean Scordilis has a way with words. He excels at painting a picture of melancholic despair(“Blood”), he is capable of scathing and unrepentant words of political justice(“Death To False Idols,” “Refugee Song”), and he can imbue you with a sense of hope.(“Manifesto”)

My favorite track on this album was the semi-title track, “Manifesto,” and I feel like I would be committing a great injustice if I didn’t discuss this track in more detail. A major part of this song is a bridge-like part that features “statements of intent” from friends of the band. Things they would like to accomplish before they die. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to a song that uplifted me in such a way. It reminds me of my own dreams and the dreams of my friends around me; a bastion of positive motions from the unwavering voices of youth who haven’t given up yet. Most of all, it reminds me of everyone who didn’t live to get to where we are now.  They didn’t have the chance that we have now. We need to seize the opportunity that being alive has given us. To quote the song, “We owe it to ourselves to live! If we have to claw desperately, trying to make something, anything happen, then so be it.”

This album isn’t perfect. As stated before, it can be weird at times and the pure length of the album can be overwhelming. By the end of it, I didn’t want to listen to anything for at least a half hour. However, there are themes and views and sounds that make this album worth listening to. The same can be said about ourselves as people. We’re weird at times, and sometimes we drone on for too long, but we’re worth being heard. And every now and then, just like this album, we’re capable of saying something truly amazing.

The Manifesto was released on April 4th, 2017 and is available for streaming on bandcamp. You can find out more about Our Wits That Make Us Men via their facebook and their instagram.

Ground - Squalor Review

According to most of my Facebook friends, 2016 was a “Dumpster-fire." While I do not fully subscribe to the notion, I do understand where the frustrations were coming from. The plethora of police shootings, abundant economic inequality and above all else this godless election that came closer to tearing the country apart than at any point in the past 40 years, these were all things worthy of profound dread and disillusionment.

Enter Squalor the third full length from South Jersey grind unit Ground. These guys follow a recent trend of bands like Nails and Harm Done by incorporating tough guy hardcore mosh parts into the blast beat driven formula of traditional grindcore. I would argue that of these bands, Ground does it the best, treating the grindcore sections not as filler between breakdowns but as actual sections of music worthy of time and attention. This pattern coalesces into some of the most dynamic heavy music currently being crafted. Each face-destroying blast of snare punishment makes the resulting caveman mosh part that much more intense due to the rapid tempo change required. 

Squalor is more than just a really great grind record, at least to me. I have always seen this specific sub-genre as the ultimate catharsis, an outlet for only the deepest, darkest resentments and disgust. That disgust is very present on this record. In the context of the most recent election, it is definitely an outburst of angry defiance. But, knowing the guys in this band personally, I also feel the album is a statement on the stagnation that most of us have to face as we get older. It’s the frustrations of economic insecurity blended with contempt for a younger generation who sees fit to dress you down from their false moral high horse and an older generation who deem it ridiculous to still be playing in a metal band at the age of 30. Yet it’s also about the realization that this might be as good as it gets and if that’s the case, then that really sucks.

One of my favorite memories of this past year was driving down to Maryland Deathfest in May and seeing these guys tear up the Soundstage in Baltimore. Of the earlier bands to play that day, no one had the pit going like Ground did, a whirling tornado of elbows, beer and flat brim hats. After the show I remember talking to guitarist Mike Mayo, formerly of Waking The Cadaver, a world renowned Death Metal outfit in their own right. I specifically remember him saying “I’m kind of disappointed now that we’ve played MDF, where is there to go from here?” It was a surprising statement from a man who had worked so hard to get his band to the point where it was, but it was also shockingly true. There really is not a very high ceiling for a grindcore band, playing fests like these is basically as good as it’s going to get. In the same way, for many of us, quiet comfortability and muted frustration is the best we can hope, never quite achieving our dreams but also never quite hitting rock bottom either.

I hate to say it but Squalor may be the most mid-life crisis grindcore album ever, which is exactly why it resonated with me more so than the countless other albums I’ve listened to this past year. There’s an undeniable level of desperation and disgust present here and perhaps firmly nestled somewhere in that dark cloud of anger is the resolve to never give up and to stay true to yourself, even if you are a 30 year old playing in a metal band from Jersey.

Ground: Facebook // Bandcamp

 

MASSA NERA - will it be enough for you to keep going? Review

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I am pleased to introduce you to New Jersey’s Massa Nera and their first EP, will it be good enough for you to keep going? 

Released in April of 2016, this EP absolutely kills!

This quintet, which includes Allen Nunez (Guitar), Christopher Rodriguez (Guitar), David Moncada (Bass), Mark Boulanger (Drums), and Jhon Rodriguez (Vocals) brings a hardcore attitude with a melodic aftertaste to each of the tracks on this record. Providing a nice balance of punk grit and metal attitude, this album is really solid with a great lyrics to support the powerful instrumentals. 

“Hatsukoi,” the first track, came right in your face with an aggressive sound and pounding rhythm. Meaning first love in Japanese, "Hatsukoi" was an interesting title for this track of self-reflection and depression. The gut-wrenching vocals give the melancholy lyrics life and emotion. The lyrics also tell of a story between two lovers: the vocalist or speaker feeling isolated from their significant other and not feeling loved. The change in language from English to Spanish was refreshing as well. It’s nice to show a group’s cultural diversity in their work.

The instrumentals also keep a great chaotic tempo of pushing rhythm with a nice melodic bridge. Overall, This was a great first track. 

“Hatsuyuki,” meaning first snow in Japanese, was a nice simmer down in this metaphorical pan of an album. This song really showcases the strength and talent of the group instrumentally. Keeping tight catchy riffs with with a nice percussion and bass to keep the pit going. This was a nice bridge between the first and last track. These lyrics are another nice mix of English and Spanish where the tempo changes with the language. The dark words in this track speak of a lost mind on the brink of a breakdown, where they feel like their life does not matter, as if they would not be missed if they were gone. 

Finally, “Hikikomori” is a nice brief punk-y track to finish the EP. This existential song gives a feeling of hopelessness that match the instrumentals. All emotions are invalid and your life does not matter, so it seems. "Hikikomori" translates to someone who is a recluse and keeps to themselves. It is the tale of someone who gave out too much love and never received any in return. Who hurt you Massa Nera? This is my favorite track on the album and it was easy to identify and get into. The outro is an aggressive way to show the emotion involved with the whole album, and I really enjoyed listening to this track.

Like any EP should, each song had its own story, its own emotional drive and rhythm. Providing a diverse cultural journey where emotions are felt by everyone. I hope to see more great work from these guys in the future.

I give this record an 8/10.

I hope you all give this EP a try and I hope it invoked the same feelings I did. Links to the Bandcamp and Facebook are below! 

MASSA NERA: Facebook // Bandcamp

With Sails Ahead - Years In Waiting Review

Photography: Emily Tantuccio

Photography: Emily Tantuccio

With Sails Ahead has joined The Hook's pretty rad and well established league of featured artists/bands. (Can we call it a league, cause we are?) The four piece alt-rock group is a labor of intense amounts of love, only getting sweeter over time.

The up & coming five-piece includes Sierra Binondo (vocals), Josef Warner-Reyes (guitar), Santino Costa (guitar), Jaime Martinez (bass) and Andrew Rotundo (drums) to create a really cool, and unique sound. 

In June, With Sails Ahead released their latest EP, Years In Waiting - a four track debut EP that highlights their alt-rock sound, while also harnessing a steady and hardworking inspo from hardcore music - a sound that can be found in some of their instrumentals, as well as their lyrics. The EP comes after a ton of hard work by founding member & lead singer Sierra, who worked two years to establish With Sails Ahead with musicians who fit the style she had been looking for with the band, and then a ton of shows later - enter in Years In Waiting.

The EP was recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios, and Assistant Engineered by Augusto Sanchez. It features 4 tracks that set up the listener for some of those “hardcore influenced” instrumentals mentioned earlier, which nicely juxtapose Sierra’s voice to illustrate powerful lyrics.

With Sails Ahead caught my attention for a few reasons. First being that they're really stinkin' good, and a band that should definitely be on your up & coming radar. Secondly, lead singer Sierra Binondo's voice is a refreshing and exciting development in the scene. With Sails Ahead reminded me of baby Paramore.

The EP moves really well. Sierra's voice is backed by exacting and expressive music - thanks to really heavy-hitting drums from Andrew, and not one but two guitarists Josef & Santino, while bassist Jaime outlines the tracks.

Check out the track list below!
 

Artwork: Bailey Zindel

Artwork: Bailey Zindel

Years In Waiting Tracklisting:
1. Shut In
2. Sharpshooter
3. Embrace
4. Sooner or Later










Of course, With Sails Ahead's EP is one that focuses on positivity and spreading messages of self-love and personal growth. It is an extremely impressive collective effort that feels focused and driven for the listener. The empowering lyrics are highlighted by pressing instrumentals which allows for fans and listeners to really feel the cathartic, emotional experience that this album really gave myself - something I feel With Sails Ahead was definitely hoping for. 

My absolute favorite track is #4, "Sooner Or Later." This track felt really defining for me as the final song of the EP, along with that really rad intro and the subtlety of Binondo's voice. The EP does move really quickly, with each track hitting just 3-minutes, or under, I hope that this EP is a sampling of bigger things to come from With Sails Ahead. 

Stoked for the present and future thanks to With Sails Ahead, and ready for more!

Rating: 9/10

For more on With Sails Ahead and their super cool lives, check out the links below! Make sure to check out Years In Waiting, and support these rad people by buying the EP and blasting it in your car and talking about it at family parties!

With Sails Ahead: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Bandcamp // Youtube