Review: Jukai, Prologue (Trip Machine Laboratories, 2018)

Hard-hitting up-and-comers Jukai hail from the ever-impressive scene of Long Island, NY, and through 10 songs in 31 minutes, Prologue compiles the group's first two releases onto LP: the digital-only 2012 demo and the MMXIV demo, which was limited to 100 cassettes via Ride the Fury.

Trip Machine rarely fails to impress, and it's evident from the opening intro of Jukai's very first demo that this is some truly high-quality dark metallic hardcore reminiscent of the mid- to late-'90s variety. Expect harshly yelled vocals over powerfully meaty midpaced rhythms laced with just the right amount of melody or discordant texture, that European metalcore take on classic Slayer-esque runs, and even a few moments where slightly more straightforward hardcore types of chord progressions are overdriven into pummeling thrash metal territory.

It really all boils down to great songwriting, though. There's a subtle interplay and layered construction between the instruments that you don't hear enough of these days, and lengthier and more diverse cuts such as "Faith" (which even features a well-composed guitar solo) and "Repetition" really boast some potential. Great drumming, too. Percussion doesn't jump out at me often, but there's much to appreciate here.

Solid production as well. The MMXIV sessions are thicker and punchier, while the debut was slightly better-balanced as a whole, but... no complaints.

The LP is presented in a two-sided, black and white 1⅓-panel sleeve featuring solid cover art, lyrics, credits, and a small assortment of photos and flyers (plus a download code). Lyrically, the material deals in bleak, succinct passages fairly open to interpretation:

I grow colder and colder in these passing days
Fighting and losing, left in an early grave
No remorse, sealing my fate...

I don't really gel with much contemporary hardcore. I don't know why, I'm probably just too damn old. But I can't argue with this, they're pretty much doing everything right. It appears that I need to add Jukai to the short list of current hardcore bands that I ought to follow more closely.

Prologue is limited to a one-time pressing of 302 copies, of which purple mix vinyl (out of 227) remains, so make the grab while you still can...

Get It