For someone like myself who's a massive, massive fan of Integrity (they're among my top five favorite bands of all time, if that matters), the prospect of listening to the long-awaited "Harder They Fall: Tribute to Integrity" collection from Escapist Records can be a daunting one – because there's always the possibility that you're going to hear 21 different bands (a number of which I wasn't familiar with) massacre 21 different classics from one of the greatest hardcore bands in the history of all existence, you know? Thankfully that's not at all the case here. Of the 21 artists included, worldwide locales such as Belgium, Japan, Poland, New Zealand, and the UK are represented (among others). It does seem a little odd that there are four bands from Florida, three from Texas (neither of which are the home states of the label itself, which might've made a hint more sense), and three from The Netherlands, as opposed to shooting for as much global participation as possible, but fuck it.
Of course, one of the biggest problems with compilations is often the various levels of recording quality put forth by the participants due to budget limitations and whatnot, but despite expected inconsistencies and minor weaknesses here and there that's not a real issue here, as the vast majority of the tracks all sound fairly solid, and even the worst sounding offerings are still quite listenable. I'm also thrilled that this isn't "The 'Those Who Fear Tomorrow' Show": Damn near the entire "Humanity is the Devil" EP is covered, as well as scattered tracks from the other two full-lengths and various other inclusions such as "Eighteen" and "Kingdom of Heaven" (here renamed "Kingdom of Hell" by Belgium's Rise and Fall). The tracklist is wrong seeing as Lie and Wait's (Texas) take on "Abraxas Annihilation" and The Phantom Pains' (Ohio) truly shocking delivery of "No Time For Sudden Glances" (What the fuck!? A track from "Closure"!? I mean… whew… that takes balls!) appear in each others' slots, but you'd have to be a fuckin' moron not to figure out which track is really which, so… no big deal.
I'm not gonna do a song-by-song rundown or anything, but some standouts: XEye of JudgementX (The Netherlands) kills it with some sweet acoustic guitars and super crisp leads in their rendition of "Armenian Persecution"; despite what's probably the worst recording herein On Thin Ice (UK) gets kudos for their unexpected selection (and super pissed cover) of "The Screams"; and These Days (California) nails the intimidating task of taking on the highly coveted "Micha: Those Who Fear Tomorrow". And… some (admittedly nitpicky at times, so I'm not downing any of the bands) "disappointments": Evil Priest (New Zealand) opts to close the disc with a less-than-two-minute instrumental medley from "Jagged Visions of My True Destiny" that, while strong and quite promising, is a crushing letdown (and a bit of a copout) considering that's one of my personal favorites from the Integrity canon; Alcatraz (California) inexplicably bogs down their otherwise scorching cover of "Hollow" with weird and wholly unnecessary 25-second hip-hop intro/outro segments; and Die Young (Texas) failed to realize that the song titled "ATF Assault" on "Seasons in the Size of Days" is actually the song "All is Lost" (As did everyone else involved with the layout!).
But that's not to discredit any of the other bands – Creepout (Japan), On Our Own (Florida), Force of Change (California), Incarnate (The Netherlands), Know the Score (Florida) Human Demise (The Netherlands), Damien Done (Florida), Nothing Sacred (Pennsylvania), Your Mistake (Texas), Crowd Deterrent (Ohio), Daymares (Poland), and Dance Floor Justice (Florida) – or any of the bands, really, as this is definitely a solid outing. Obviously some tracks are better than others, and there are other standouts/minor "disappointments" than the three of each called out above, but at the end of the day this is a fitting tribute to one of the most important and influential bands in the history of the genre… and a band that will never truly be able to be done proper justice given their true value and significance.
XEye of JudgementX "Armenian Persecution"
On Thin Ice "The Screams"
These Days "Micha: Those Who Fear Tomorrow"
As always, make the grab if you're intrigued:
@ Escapist Records