New York's Fahrenheit 451 was always one of those bands that I meant to take a closer look at, but for whatever reason I never really did. I saw 'em live at least once in the '96 – '98 range (maybe two or three times, it's all a blur) and was curious, and I did eventually pick up their sole proper release, "The Thought of It" EP, but I'm not gonna lie: That's about all I can say in terms of my awareness of the band during the time that they were actually active. So I had intended to pick up this extensive collection when it first came out last summer (released by Awake/Strong), but it kept slipping my mind and I never did, 'cause I suck, so… yeah. What can you do? Thankfully I just got hooked up last week, and this CD/DVD set definitely offers up a shitload of evidence as to what these cats truly had to offer in their day. Rounding up all 20 of the band's studio tracks (plus two live songs from their 2005 reunion show) in just over 76 minutes, you'll get the two tracks from the "New York's Hardest" compilation (1994), the 1995 demo, "The Thought of It" EP (1996) and some 1998 bonus tracks from the EP's Japanese re-release, the Motörhead tribute cover of "No Class" (1998), and six previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1999 that were intended for a full-length that sadly never got the chance to see the light due to the band's disintegration. The tracks aren't arranged in chronological order or anything, so they start out with the demo, then the two comp tracks followed by the original EP, after which they sort of sprinkle the rest together – I guess sequencing everything in the order that sounded the best in terms of stylistic continuity or what have you. Who knows? It all sounds solid and fairly consistent regardless, so fuck it.
Fahrenheit 451's delivery was a unique amalgam of post-hardcore influences somewhat comparable to the sound of the first Orange 9mm EP (which debuted right around the same time as Fahrenheit 451's "New York's Hardest" material was recorded) with more of a hip-hop influence happening in terms of the (often awesomely energetic) vocal arrangements. However, it's neither fair nor accurate to reduce the band's output to that kind of a comparison at all, so I don't want to create that impression in any way. Compared to many of their contemporaries within similar musical circles, Fahrenheit 451 had a little more going on musically in terms of dynamics and melody. The compositions were of course driven by rhythm above all, accented by those discordant guitar textures so prevalent at the time, but there were a lot of influences swirling around in there, and you sort of have to check 'em out for yourself to really get a feel for what was happening. Sure, there are rare occurrences of traditional sounding hardcore to be found, as well as all of the staples of what's since been deemed the "post-hardcore" sound, but still… I don't know, it's something more. Their "metal" influences were definitely rather subdued, though. The songs were hard hitting and rhythmically heavy, but they certainly stayed away from breakdowns and overt metal runs. The closest they came was the occasional foray into more technically oriented and Burn-esque riffing (most notably during the stellar "Fragments of Reality"), but hey, you'll never hear me complain about that shit!
The DVD opens up with a 45-minute live set documenting the band's one-time reunion show on February 19, 2005 at CBGB. I'm not wild on watching live shows on video, and never have been, but this is definitely a solid set both in terms of the look and the sound. Surprise moments include a cover of Fugazi's "Waiting Room" and not one but two badass Burn covers ("Shall be Judged" and "Out of Time"), so… you can't really go wrong with that shit. After that it's a great documentary (also just under 45 minutes) interspersing old school Fahrenheit 451 live footage with band interviews/commentary (as well as some contributions from friends and fellow scene peeps) starting with the early days and moving on through the recording and touring cycle, the breakup, and the eventual events that led to the final reunion show. It's definitely interesting – and at times humorous – material, and I really had no fuckin' clue that so much was going on with the band "behind the scenes" in the late-90's up through 2000 what with the unreleased (until now) recordings and all that, so… it definitely makes you wonder. That 90-minute slab makes up the meat of the DVD, with a fan footage video for the track "Guided" and all of the lyrics from the accompanying CD rounding things out. The discs are housed in a nice looking six-panel digipack with shitloads of old flyers lining the inner side, plus a booklet that includes a collage of old band photos, recording credits, etc. (as mentioned all of the lyrics are on the DVD).
A damn fine discography release all in all, and one that will hopefully introduce the band to some new listeners that were too young to get on board in the 90's… as well as further educating those like myself who just didn't have a complete image of what Fahrenheit 451 laid down before going their separate ways. See what you think:
Fahrenheit 451 "Fragments of Reality"
Fahrenheit 451 "Settle"
Fahrenheit 451 "Heights and Castles"
As always, don't be a douchebag and download shit like this for free. It ain't cheap to put something like this together, so if you dig the tunes, buy one:
@ Very Distribution
And yo, Fahrenheit 451 will also be featured on the "Music by People Like Us" compilation coming out this summer on Awake/Strong. But more importantly, C…rap is running a contest right now where an unsigned band can actually win a slot on said compilation – alongside such greats as Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, Madball, District 9, and numerous others – by submitting a cassette demo. Yeah, demo tapes, remember them? So if you're in such a band, check out the full details and take a shot. Get off your lazy asses and give those CD burners a rest, kids!