Maximum Penalty "Life & Times" CD/LPPosted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 @ 7:31am » permalink
"Life & Times" is the first new Maximum Penalty release in about seven years (thanks to Reaper Records), but though it comes some 20+ years after the band's formation, there's absolutely no reason to fear some lackluster reunion. Despite having seen these guys live a handful of times in the mid-90's timeframe, I was never a true Maximum Penalty fan until a few years ago when their 1989 demo and the "East Side Story" EP were re-released together on one CD. The band's sound had taken on a somewhat lighter and more rocked out tone on their post-"East Side Story" releases that – while fairly solid in retrospect – still can't match the impact of their earliest work. And that's what makes "Life & Times" so impressive, because over a decade later a band that has such an extensive (not to mention underrated and overlooked) history is back in action with 15 tracks that completely recapture the harder edge of their original vision. This is easily their most diverse (and probably best sounding) effort to date, and while there's a clear metallic hardcore base, Maximum Penalty's simply incapable of sounding the least bit like generic NYHC – maintaining a unique blend of crunchy rhythms, melodic post-hardcore characteristics, and some of that catchy, rockin' punch they've always played with. Hell, there are even a few riffs that have a thrashy crossover kinda vibe! And of course you've got the soulful feeling of vocalist Jim Williams' immediately recognizable, one-of-a-kind delivery. I don't know if there's any luck or right place/right time involved or if it's just Maximum Penalty's true sincerity and inventiveness, but I wish more bands had the ability to release such killer albums at this point in their lifespans…
Crazily enough, the band's lineup (which still features two original members and their longest-standing drummer) has gotten even better since the recording of the album, with Rey Fonseca (formerly of two of the greatest bands ever, Elements DEC and Agents of Man) coming in on second guitar and Jonathan Buske (formerly of The Promise, Another Victim, Terror, and shitloads more) now handling bass duties. I'm sure it'll be awhile, but I'd be psyched as hell to see 'em get that current lineup in the studio with more new material!