Upstate Records continues its tear of killer releases here—and I haven't even gotten my hands on the Volume III compilation yet—with a string of impressive EPs, mostly from relatively new and underrated acts—plus freakin' Leeway NYC!? I can't keep track of what order these were released in, so I'm just gonna run through 'em all alphabetically...
Bushido Code, The Dying Virtues Vol. 2 (2019)
Erie, PA's Bushido Code had been on my radar prior to hooking up with Upstate Records because their guitarist, Derrick Voricci, is an insanely talented artist that I follow on Instagram. If you're in the market for some high-quality metalcore that leans hard on the metal, take note. These dudes have an absolutely superb knack for slick dual guitar interaction—right down to mixing one guitar more left, the other more right, and bass in the middle—an underutilized tactic these days that in this case really shows off the band's talent for writing creative riffs and layering different little elements together. They're definitely reminiscent of their labelmates Penitentiary when it comes to musicianship, though Bushido Code has more of a galloping energy to their compositions. Overall their sound runs ripping melodic thrash riffing through a fiery midpaced lens—like a more polished Slayer—balled up in the gruff aggression of, say, All Out War. It's pretty fuckin' great, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they'll head next...
Habits, Value of Self (2019)
This three-song, seven-minute EP from Buffalo, NY's Habits administers some of that over-the-top heavy style of modern metalcore that makes me feel old, but not so old that I don't get it. Expect knuckle-draggin', beatdown-ish breaks; thick-ass discordance; and intense vocals that—like the music—aren't too far beyond the edge. This sucker's just a relentless, churning mass of heavy, and I quite dig it, I must say. I could definitely see this band making some noise down the road, especially considering the success that comparable acts such as Jesus Piece have achieved in recent years. Good stuff. I'm not seeing individual copies for sale, so if you want to land a physical disc without shelling out for a bundle, contact the label and I'm sure you can work it out.
Leeway NYC, Tipping Point! (2019)
I do believe this all-too-brief two-song outing is the mighty Eddie Sutton's first newly-released music under any form of the legendary Leeway name in over 20 years. I don't know a ton about what's going on with this incarnation of the group, but Sutton's chief collaborator—at least for these two songs—was guitarist Dan Nastasi (Mucky Pup, Dog Eat Dog, etc.). The results are mighty damn fine, too, landing somewhere between the flawless thrashy grooves of Desperate Measures—check that priceless verse riff in "I'm Your Pusher" above—and the sleek melodic tendencies of Eddie's work with the painfully underrated Truth & Rights. I'm not gonna lie, the vinyl ain't cheap, but it's limited to just 300 copies, so... this might be another one of those collectors' situations where it's pay now or pay more later! I'm excited to hear more, though, as this EP is rather promising.
- Upstate Records (7")
Paid in Full, A Pound of Flesh (2019)
It looks like they've been around for a few years now, but this is my first exposure to Wilmington, NC's Paid in Full, and it's not too shabby. Offering up four tracks in about 12 minutes, it's just good, solid, in your face metallic hardcore. A little more aggressive and metalized than your typical NYHC type of approach, but still rooted in the classic formula without sounding run-of-the-mill. Another fine example of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" type of mentality. You don't need to reinvent the wheel to write powerful, to-the-point tunes that leave a mark.
Ripped Away, Redemption Strike (2019)
Another short but sweet burner, this three-track set from Ripped Away (Scranton, PA) cranks out more generally straightforward metallic hardcore that falls somewhere in between the above-mentioned stylings of Paid in Full and Habits. They've got more modern flare and subtle beatdown groove than Paid in Full, but they're nowhere near as oppressively heavy as Habits. So, again, not exactly breaking new ground, but not a mere carbon copy of the latest trends either. An enjoyable listen, for sure.