Donnybrook "Lions in This Game" CD
[Hand of Hope]
First things first: I have to give this band a shitload of credit for covering a District 9 song on this fucker ("Victim"), because I love District 9 and it seems like no one even remembers that fuckin' band these days, so I'm pretty fuckin' impressed there. Anyway, I've heard a lot about these guys over the last year or so, but this is the first time I've gotten a chance to check 'em out. Thankfully they deliver a chunky brand of metallic hardcore that's right up my alley, straight down to their penchant for ripping breakdowns and hard hitting midpaced grooves. There's definitely a NYHC sort of thing going on, and the thing I really like about their songwriting is that it's metallic without losing its hardcore footing, and the way they arrange their picking patterns and basic power chords is somehow more memorable than most such bands, and I'm telling you... the motherfuckin' breakdowns on this thing are ragers! The vocals are midrange yells with just the right amount of attitude, of course accented with gang backup shouts on occasion, so this is definitely the kind of stuff that will appeal to fans of straight up metallic hardcore that's still totally rooted in hardcore. The songs average two to three minutes apiece with a pretty good balance of tempos, though nothing ever gets too fast. It's also worth pointing out that aside from "Down for the Core" and "Word is Bond" the breakdowns are never really in much of a chugga style, and that's why they seem more energetic and aggressive to me, which is awesome. "Get Real" is totally in your face and jumps out right away (even throwing in a quick lead break towards the end), "Techno-Logic-Kill" has a thrashier edge to its picking patterns and a guest vocal appearance from Scoot Vogel, "Check Your Chest" tosses in some faster vocal patterns and a little bit of a rocked out sense of arrangement that definitely stands apart, the succinct "House of Rage" opens with a fast blast followed by feedback that builds back into a surging midpaced rhythm, "Get Your Mind Right" is among the catchier tracks and also has a subtly more intricate manner of fucking with the chord progressions just a little bit, etc. Elsewhere, "Word is Bond" and "Fist Over Fist" crank out a few unexpected hip-hop influenced vocal patterns over staccato breaks, and I have to say that's actually a pretty promising approach for these guys, they really pull it off nicely. The recording's pretty good, too. I might like to hear a slightly crunchier guitar tone, but the vocals are dead on, you can make out the bass, the drums sound alright, and it's crisp and clear. There are no blaring problems, just room for tweaking here and there that could benefit their approach. Visually things look different from your average hardcore record with comic book styled illustrations of a massive hockey brawl and all of the lyrics in crisp yet tiny text, vertically arranged in the center spread. The content deals with your average topics of staying true, friendships, the scene, etc., but I will say that even though there's nothing groundbreaking about the lyrics they do seem a little longer than average, while still pulling no punches whatsoever. This is good stuff overall, and it's cool that they're able to create just a little of their own differentiation from the pack without trying to rewrite the book on the genre or anything like that. Although, I bet they'll start to sound more unique if they keep at it, because they're tight players and you can pick up little hints throughout this disc that suggest that Donnybrook's got a little extra talent kicking around to work with. Well done. (7/10)
Running time - 26:26, Tracks: 12
[Notable tracks: Get Real, Check Your Chest, Victim, Get Your Mind Right]
Hand of Hope Records - http://www.handofhoperecords.com
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