Review: Hell Brigade “s/t” CD

I'm not entirely sure what the deal is with this band, but some of their members have previously served in acts like 25 ta Life, Everybody Gets Hurt, NJ Bloodline, and One 4 One, yet most of the band is Japanese!? Whatever the case, as you might expect, this EP drops less than 15 minutes of extremely promising metallic hardcore that's chock full of hoarse vocal shouts and chugging power chords that blend a hint of old school flavor with tons of new school mosh breaks and all that. "Resident Earth" is a pretty straightforward late-90's metallic hardcore track that blends chugging dual guitar action with plenty of tempo changes and drops a Slayer-esque lead run; "Colt 45" is faster and highlights some of the lightly hip-hop sounding vocal arrangements of the EP; "Basic Training" takes the traditional framework of the opening track and tosses in lots of discordant guitar textures to change the vibe a little; and "An Aching Perfection" uses some melodic accents on some of the guitar parts to contrast the all out moshfest that makes up the verse parts. At its best the songwriting is actually pretty memorable here, namely in the awesome "An Aching Perfection", so these dudes are definitely on the right track with this stuff. The recording's alright, but a little work in that department would make a big difference. For the most part they're in good shape, especially considering that this is a self-released effort that might have been put together pretty quickly considering the international lineup. My only significant gripe is that the guitar tone is too thin, so the sound is kind of heavy, but there's just too much of a midrange sheen over the guitars, hence a lot of force falls by the wayside. But the bass tone kicks ass and the vocals sound pretty solid, while the drums are strong but could use a little more natural warmth in my opinion. So... yeah, just throw some more hardedged crunch into that guitar tone and make sure those guitars run the show (sometimes the vocals get too loud) and you guys will basically be set. The packaging looks solid for a self-released effort as well, so I have no complaints there. The lyrics are sort of so-so, though. I can hang with the typical violent outlets and whatnot, but the lyrics to the song "Colt 45" (yeah, a silly drinking song) are way cheesy and just doesn't fit the overall vibe of this otherwise ferocious EP: "Fiends crawl like zombies all wasted, A viral outbreak of junkies and baseheads, Another cover up for all it's worth, Weapon in hand welcome to resident earth..." Not bad overall. In fact, I'm pretty into this. Fans of Second to None and that kind of thing should seriously keep an eye on these cats, and I'm damn sure looking forward to hearing more, 'cause if they can nail that guitar tone this'll be the kind of metallic hardcore that I'm all about, man! Keep at it...

Running time - 12:58, Tracks: 4
[Notable tracks: Resident Earth, An Aching Perfection]
Hell Brigade -