Reviews February 2004



Voice of Reason, c/o Stefan Muench, Dreihalde 15, 73527 Hussenhofen, Germany



ALBERT REACT -- Confluence & Scrapes (CD / Alveran Records)

When I found this CD from Alveran Records in my mailbox I was curious what to expect. Tough guy Hardcore or not? Well, as this record is licensed from Eulogy Records it's not the type of music to kick in other people's heads, hehe... Instead it's exactly the type of music I could go on listening forever. Mix melodic vocals and nice guitar harmonies with powerful outbursts and some screaming and you get Alber React's sound. It's that kind of sound that mostly bands like Thursday made so popular, and as long as there are bands as Albert React around I'm not getting tired of this type of music. Never losing the feeling for cool melodies, Albert React manage to appear as the missing link between bands just as the aforementioned Thursday, Poison the Well, Matchbook Romance and the Deftones. The quality of "Confluence & scrapes" is even more astonishing if you keep in mind that this band from Pennsylvania started in 2001 and split up the same year because all of the members went to university. One year later in 2002 they got back together, played lots of shows and finally recorded this album between July and August 2003. You really don't hear that this band is so young, so I guess there are more great things to come from Albert React. Until then "Confluence & scrapes" is a damn fine debut that no fans of the bands listed above should miss. (Stefan)



ALLEGIANCE – s/t (CD / Anchor Records)

The Oldschool-boom is over an has been replaced by the early-80s-styled American Nightmare-oriented sound. All classic records – you know which ones – have long been released, so maybe there´s nothing left to say. Wrong!!! The hightimes may be over but every once in a while there's a Youth Crew album coming along that has the energy and that ass-kicking vibe that makes me go nuts. ALLEGIANCE`s first MCD is such a record. As I said before: Don´t expect something new or even revolutionary. This is nothing else but fast, hyper-aggressive Oldschool that makes it impossible to sit still. A big point is the singer who sounds like a mixture of Embrace Today and Shutdown (but less annoying). The MCD contains the 2002 demo, 7 new songs and a great version of Minor Threat´s “Bootled Violence”. In my opinion one of the best Youth Crew-albums since Carry On´s “A Life Less Plagued”. (Tobi)



THE BACKUP PLAN – Dearest Whomever… (CD / New Day Rising Records)

Man, I´m sure these kids have more than just one Lifetime or Kid Dynamite record at home. “Dearest Whomever…” is the first release of the new founded New Day Rising label and it´s a real promising start although THE BACKUP PLAN sound as if Ari Katz and Jason Shevchuk joined one and the same band…Kid Lifetime. So I guess everybody knows what to expect: Just plain Hardcore, Singalongs…and a coverversion of S.O.D.´s “United Forces”. This album is as original as the 137th Bad Religion release (Stefan, I´m sure you do agree - Tobi) (Not really, but at least Bad Religion still blow your favourite band away: The Backstreet Boys - Stefan) but who cares! I rather listen to a Kid Dynamite-Clone than get annoyed by that unbearable Newschool Chaoscore-stuff. “Dearest Whomever…” is a sureshot for those of you who think that Lifetime and Kid Dynamite broke up much too soon. You can´t go wrong! (Tobi)




BURNS OUT BRIGHT -- Distance And Darkness (CD / Deep Elm Records)

I was very surprised when I first listened to Burns Out Bright, one of the latest signing of Deep Elm Records. You could say that there have been two kinds of bands on Deep Elm, the more rocking kind of bands like Brandtson or Slowride on the one hand and more quiet and complex Indie bands like Appleseed Cast, Benton Falls or Desert City Soundtrack. Now, Burns Out Bight create a whole new category. They sometimes remind me to bands like Thursday because the mix rocking parts and nice melodies with outbursts of energy and some screams. Did I mention before that I like this sound a lot? And as this is the case I like Burns Out Bright a lot. I would be too easy to say that these four guys from Columbia, South Carolina, are just another band in the vein of the aforementioned Thursday sound because the six songs on this EP are really outstanding. The EP was produced by Steve Slavich (Stretch Arm Strong) and I can't wait for the full length. Very good stuff and once again congratulations to Deep Elm for a great cover art and layout. Get this, it's not getting much better than this. (Stefan)



CALICO SYSTEM -- The Duplicated Memory (CD / Alveran Records)

The next release from Alveran Records this month and as their buddies from Albert React another winner. Also licensed from Eulogy Records "The duplicated memory" from Calico System mixes various styles such as Hardcore, Metal and Emo, features melodic as well as screaming vocals and lots of breaks and rhythm changes without losing the feeling for catchy songs. Sometimes you can make out some influences from the mighty Thrice, especially during the faster parts, but there could be far worse comparisons, right? As the band was already formed in 1998 you truly can't say that they are just following the latest trend that is mixing the above mentioned styles. Despite all catchiness, Calico System are too "complex" and intense for being a trend act. But never too complex that it's getting too much for me. See above: Never losing the feeling for catchy songs. Even though the Metal riffs of Thrice can't be beaten, Calico System indeed is a highly interesting band with an outstanding vocalist. Good stuff. (Stefan)



CALL DAVID / LIE.ALGEBRA -- When Gravity Fails (Split CD / Strange Fruit Records)

This split CD featuring Call David and Lie.Algebra is one of those releases that you can pick up without having listened to it just because of the great artwork that shows a Manga comic. I don't quite get the story behind the drawings, but it looks nice anyway. Both bands are from Stuttgart, Germany, and as I lived close to this city for many years I was quite curious. I knew Call David from their last release "Elegy vs. tragedy" that also came out on Strange Fruit Records. The five songs were recorded in August 2003 and offer a mixture of (Post-) Hardcore and Indie with melodies that are mostly somber and melancholic. The vocals go hand in hand with this sound as they are mostly screams filled with anger with some melodic singing. Quite promising and I can imagine these guys are pretty furious on stage. I should check them out, and in the meantime you should take a listen to them. Oh, Lie.Algebra are on here, too, also with five songs. Unlike their buddies from Call David, Lie.Algebra's sound is much more melodic and "happy", sometimes reminding me to bands like Ambrose (second LP) and the likes. Cool stuff and worth your attention (Stefan)



DESCENDENTS -- 'Merican (CD EP / Fat Wreck Chords)

I guess it was in 1990 when I first heard the DESCENDENTS. Before I knew them and their music I stumbled upon their name mainly because of the comic drawings I of their singer Milo on records and t-shirts. That somehow gained my attention and eventually I bought their album "I don't want to grow up". Even though I was totally into Death Metal at that time (and I still am), bands like Bad Religion or the Hard-Ons also made it into my stereo frequently, so I was totally blown away by the DESCENDENTS. The music was amazing and their heartfelt lyrics appealed to any guy who felt like a loser and thought he'd never find a girl. Definitely the right stuff for me. I was not aware of the fact that the band had broken up already in 1987 after the release of their last studio album called "All" (well, "break-up" is probably not the right word because singer Milo Aukerman left the band once again to pursue a career at college while the rest of the group joined forces with former DYS / Dag Nasty singer Dave Smalley and went on as ALL). Needles to say I bought all of their records and especially the first one "Milo goes to college" is still one of my all time favourite records. I seriously doubt anyone would disagree if I say that this record is a Punk classic, defining a whole genre: The so called Pop Punk. In 1996 I was in the US for one month, and one week before I went back home I was going through a copy of Flipside magazine I had bought earlier. On one of the last pages there was this small ad from Epitaph Records that only depicted Milo's comic head and said: "New record out September 23rd". Nothing more. I almost got a heart attack. On that day I went to a record store in Berkeley and there it was, a new DESCENDENTS record after almost ten years. I bought it right away and asked the sales guy if he had heard it yet and he was like "Man, it's as great as the old stuff". That was also my opinion after I had listened to "Everything sucks". They simply made another record as if they'd never been away (yeah, ALL had been there all the time, but... you know). In February 1997 I saw the live in Stuttgart, Germany, and it was he best show in my entire life. I thought or at least hoped that they would put out records now on a more regular basis. But it took them almost 8 years to release new music!! A very long time indeed, but the wait is finally over and be sure it's been worth the while! "'Merican" is kind of a teaser EP before the full length album "Cool to be you" comes out at the end of March. I don't know how many times I played "Merican" since I got a copy, but it's again as if they'd never been away. The only difference compared to "Everything sucks" is that both the EP and the new album are coming out on Fat Wreck instead of Epitaph. But everything else is 100% DESCENDENTS: The cover art, the layout, the band photo and of course the music. Four songs can be found on here (well actually five but only four are listed) and they all rule. "Nothing with you" and "Merican" will be on the full length, too, while "Here with me" (my favourite one, an absolute killer song!) and "I quit" are exclusive to this EP. Milo Aukerman wrote three out of the four songs, so I guess he had a real urge to to DESCENDENTS again. To make a long story short: The DESCENDENTS are back and they're as great as always. They totally rule and you have to get a copy of both the EP and the album when they come out!! Praise the godfathers of Punk! (Stefan)



INCAPACITY – Chaos Complete (CD / Cold Records)

Yes, I can hear all of you screaming in agony: Oh no, not again another fucking Death Metal-release from Sweden. But before you go jumping out of the next window you should give this record a try and I´m sure that most of you will be surprised that it´s possible to create a really fresh album with the old well-known tools. So we have straight forward, mincblasting Death Metal with killer-riffs – sometimes oldschool, sometimes thrashy but always melodic – and a great shouter. I can´t help myself but I feel reminded of Edge Of Sanity´s “Cryptic”-album. I don´t know whether this comparison fits or not…maybe it is because INCAPACITY are featuring former and current members of bands like Edge Of Sanity, Unmoored, Solar Dawn and Pan-Thy-Monium. Fact is, that “Chaos Complete” is way better than “Cryptic”. Anyway, “Chaos Complete” has been recorded in 2001 so it´s good to hear that INCAPACITY are working on new material that hopefully will see the light of day quite soon. Stay away from me with that Florida-styled-Bullshit, this is the real thing!!! (Florida styled bullshit... Didn't I hear you say you have to buy the latest albums from Monstrosity and Deicide? I didn't know that those two bands come from Örebrö and Stockholm, but thanks for telling me, hehe - Stefan) (Tobi)



LOCAL H -- Whatever Happened To P.J. Soles? (CD / Studio E. Records)

Does anybody remember P.J. Soles? He's the forgotten 70s/80s star of movies such as "Rock and Roll High School" or "Carrie". It seems like this guy must have made a huge impression the people in Local H because they named their third (?) album after him. Honestly I haven't heard of both the actor and the band before, but I think that chances are good that Local H are not that easily forgotten. "Whatever happened to P.J. Soles?" is a solid mixture of classic Rock and Indie Rock with some influences from bands as The Hives etc. and the first release on NYC based label Studio E Records. The songs are full of hooks, melodies and drive, and I think they're quite cool. It's not that Local H come along with something outstanding or innovating, but if you take into consideration that only few innovative records are released today this is a solid album. Cool stuff and I'm sure pretty good to listen to on your car stereo. Unfortunately I don't have a car, but anyway I will play this CD again in the future. (Stefan)



LOSINGALL -- s/t (Demo CD / DIY)

Mike, guitarist in Losingall sent me their three track demo which was recorded in December 2003. Seems like those four young guys didn't waste any time as they founded Losingall in the same year 2003! What you can find on this demo are three songs combining (New York styled) Hardcore and some Metal riffs, but it's no real Metalcore played by bands such as Heaven Shall Burn or Caliban. The sound could be more powerful, but come on, this is just a demo. Some cool double bass action can be heard but unfortunately the vocals are quite boring in my opinion. I think they should be more powerful and brutal in the future, but as I said, this band is still so fuckin' young and I'd like to hear from them in the future. Until then, get in touch with them through (Stefan)




MODERN LIFE IS WAR – My Love, My Way (CD / Reflections Records)

I have to admit that I´m not really into that Newschool-thing. Too much noise and too much chaos really get on my nerves. But to my surprise the debut-album of MODERN LIFE IS WAR is in my opinion one of the most refreshing and promising Hardcore-releases I´ve heard in a long time. M.L.I.W. mix the aggressiveness of bands like American Nightmare/Give Up The Ghost with the groove of The Hope Conspiracy or late Adamantium. So what we get are ten mit-tempo songs with an excellent aggressive and despaired singer, a few noisy parts and even some melodies. What more could one want? More! (Tobi)




ON BROKEN WINGS -- Some Of Us May Never See The World (CD / Alveran Records)

When I heard the first seconds of this CD I thought "Oh no, not again one of those Chaos Core records", because in most cases I don't like them that much. But fortunately On Broken Wings is not one of those bands that try to create a similar sound as genre forerunners Converge or Botch but even more extreme. Well, On Broken Wings are extreme, no doubt about that, but unlike other bands that mistake chaos for brutality, they still write SONGS! The Boston six piece (featuring Johnny Cupcakes on Samples and Keys) presents a mixture of New School Hardcore, Metal riffs, a few fast parts, complex rhythm changes and vocals that vary from screaming to deeper growling to clean singing. After their self-released EP entitled "Number 1 beautiful", "Some of us may never see the world" is the band's first release on Eulogy/Alveran and comes with a pretty depressing artwork and layout. I'm surprised that I really like this album, but maybe that's because of the reasons mentioned above: Songs not noise. (Stefan)



PICASTRO -- Red Your Blues (CD / Monotreme Records)

One of those bands I never have heard of before. Not only their music was unfamiliar to me, even the name of the band was completely new to me. But apparently Picastro are not totally unknown as the US version of "Red your Blues" that came out on Pehr Records is sold out. Monotreme Records laid their hands on the European release and I can only recommend to pick that album up. Even though I'm heavily into Death Metal and aggressive Hardcore, every once in a while I like some quiet stuff, too. And "Red your Blues" is indeed quiet! Sometimes I have the impression that the music of this Toronto, Canada, based six piece would make a perfect soundtrack for a movie (no wonder one of their songs was featured in the TV series "24" starring Kiefer Sutherland). Broodingly melancholic soundscapes with lots of strings (cello, violin), piano, acoustic guitars and Liz Hysen's quiet and dark vocals. The cover art is also interesting: Not that I like it that much, but it seems like handmade and individual for each copy of this album. Definitely not the right stuff to get your aggression out but nice to relax and hang out. (Stefan)



SHIKARI -- s/t (CD / Level Plane Records)

As I am not too familiar with a sound some refer to as "Chaos Core" I didn't know that the city of Bremen, Germany, once was the capital producing the loudest and most destructive Hardcore bands around. Hmmm. Shikari from the Netherlands are about to conquer the deserted throne of Chaos Core with the release of their self titled EP out on Level Plane Records. I have mixed feelings about this release: One the one hand I really like the slower and almost depressive parts of the songs (just like on "Morning wood" or "Utopia dismantled"), but on the other hand I think the fast parts are a bit too chaotic for me, but maybe that's just because I don't listen to this kind of sound that much. Other bands that could be used for a comparison could be ACME, Uranus or Drift. All in all quite cool even though the vocals could be a bit louder in my eyes. Maybe next time. Oh, the CD comes with almost half an hour of live footage in video form, including a cover from Unbroken ("Fall on proverb") recorded in Rotterdam on June 27th 2001. (Stefan)



SUBHUMANS -- Live In A Dive (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)

The fifth volume of Fat Wreck's "Live in a Dive" series features a band which hasn't released anything on Fat Wreck so far. But the name of the band doesn't sound too unfamiliar: The Subhumans! Between 1980 and 1985 they were one of the forerunners of the British punk scene and released a couple of albums and EPs during that time. After the split singer Dick joined Ska-Punk-Reggae band Culture Shock and in 1989 teamed up with Phil and Trotsky, two former Subhumans band mates and formed Citizen Fish. In 1998 the three of them convinced ex Subhumans guitarist Bruce to give it a try again. Apparently it worked out pretty well and in 2003 the Subhumans played a sold out US tour where during which "Live in a dive" was recorded (in Corona, California, to be precise). Those of you who aren't familiar with the band can expect some kind of 26 song "best of" set from the Subhumans featuring a brand new track called "This year's war". Fortunately the music of the Subhumans is NOT in the vein of fellow countrymates G.B.H. or Cock Sparrer 'cause I can't stand that British Punk sound. Instead, it can be compared to bands like the Adolescents or D.I., so that's pretty cool I'd say. The vinyl version comes as a double LP while the CD features some multimedia stuff (live clip and interview as well as Fat Mike making some drinks). Both feature the usual "Live in a dive" comic strip which is once again a nice one. To sum it up, "Live in a dive" featuring the Subhumans is a cool release and a strong "comeback" from the band. A new studio record is scheduled for the near future and after listening to this live album I'm looking forward to this one! (Stefan)



TOBACO SAVES LIVES -- s/t (CD / Rewika Records)

Coming soon!





TOGETHER WE FALL -- Drowned (CD / Fallston Records)

Coming soon!





THE UNFINISHED SYMPATHY -- An Investment In Logistics (CD / Strange Fruit Records)

Coming soon!





V/A -- This Is How I Kill My Tears (CD / Deep Elm Records)

The latest comp from Deep Elm is one of the strongest they ever released. It features both new bands as well as old acts that already had releases out on Deep Elm such as Desert City Soundtrack, Slowride, Read Animal War, Settlefish, Surrounded (one of my personal faves) and Benton Falls. New bands are Sounds Like Violence, Fire Divine, Burns Out Bright and Lock And Key. Those four new bands in particular gave me the impression that there are amazing things on the way from Deep Elm this year as they all managed to blow me away. Sounds Like Violence are a bit in the vein of Dinosaur Jr but better than J. Mascis has been in a long time. Just amazing! The same goes for Fire Divine even though their sound is different but not less astounding. For Burns Out Bright see the review of their EP above, great stuff. Lock and Key sometimes remind me to Hot Water Music and Surrounded to Coldplay, so this is the perfect compilation for me at the moment. Two songs by each band and the best thing is that this sampler is for free! Just visit and get this jewel! (Stefan)