Epitaph/Hellcat Lightening Round
By Stacy Coronis
As a way to procrastinate, I decided to go through my bin of music people send me to review and I found all sorts of Epitaph and Hellcat discs that I’ve never gotten around to. Some of them are older releases, but I wanted to go through the back log, so here’s the lightening round on these bands
My iTunes puts Vanna in the “metal” genre, but iTunes gets this wrong a lot. I would put Vanna solidly in the hardcore group and they do a pretty good job of it, too. Things veer off the hardcore path every so often with some melodic and pop punky singing, but the songs are a lot better when lead singer Chris Preece sticks to straight up screaming the lyrics. They formed at Mass College of Art, so they’re local boys, an added bonus.
Static Thought, In The Trenches
I’m way behind on this one — the street date was January, 2006. Oops. Anyway, I really like the rhythm they’ve got going on with their songs. I feel like a lot of times hard core focuses so much on wailing, screeching guitars that it loses the bass and drums a bit. Static Thought pays a lot more attention to this detail and as a result the music feels more melodic, cohesive and polished, or at least as polished as hard core gets. That being said, the guitar work on the album is solid, though not a stand out. Overall, a complex and well thought out album.
The Heart Attacks, Hellbound and Heartless
This one is a little more poppy, with a heavy hint of glam metal a la Motley Crue. That’s never really been my cup of tea, but they don’t do a bad job. They’ve got Joan Jett on one of their songs, “Tear Stained Letters.” I love Joan Jett. Perhaps I should capitalize that. I LOVE Joan Jett. That may be an unpopular opinion, I have no idea, but I think she’s pretty bad ass. Too bad I hate this song. Not good. They also don’t fare so well when they cover “Travelin’ Band.” Leave it to the experts, boys. I wouldn’t recommend this one, far too pop.
Left Alone, Dead American Radio
This one definitely has the Tim Armstrong stamp on it. I can tell there’s a heavy Rancid influence here, and it works. There’s some punk, reggae, pop and even country elements here. The country tinged songs, such as “Waiting for You” and “Bastard Son” work the best for me, but they do a good job incorporating all the genres. Lots of fun and a solid piece of work.
Raised Fist, Sound of the Republic
Every song sounds the same. I know that a lot of hardcore has a similar sound, but this is a bit too much. Almost any song you start sounds just like any other. I like hardcore and I have no problem with the fact that there’s a great deal about it that sounds a like, but this is a bit ridiculous. Songs can’t be interchangeable and these are.
Westbound Train, Transitions
I had no idea this was reggae until I popped it in. The cover art is dark and I thought it would be some dark hard core or punk, but instead, its bouncy and fun reggae. I love the horns on this, especially. Westbound Train might not be on par with label mates The Aggrolites just yet, but they definitely have the potential.