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The Last Stand, This is Real (Irish Voodoo, 2017)

From Irish Voodoo Records, the four-song, 10-minute 7" (or six-song, 14-minute CD) This is Real marks the first new release from Brooklyn, NY's The Last Stand in about four years. For those unaware, the group features three ex-members of Shutdown alongside frontman Mike Scondotto from Inhuman (brother of Shutdown vocalist Mark Scondotto), and should absolutely appeal to fans of those acts. Expect straightforward, no nonsense NYHC that's equal parts traditional old school foundation and heavier, hard-hitting grooves—generally midpaced, but not in a moshy fashion; just meat and potatoes power chords, finger-points, and singalongs.

The title track opens with a slow fade into surging chord progressions and a lyrical dedication to the hardcore scene, complete with raging gang backup vocals and breakdown calls of "Kick it!" and "Pick it up!" "The Ride" follows, and is immediately my standout favorite. After a slick, bass-centric intro, there's a little bit of a Civ-ishness to the vocals—slightly higher-pitched and with the subtlest hint of melody—which works perfectly alongside the catchy energy of the composition. I love the fact that it's so hooky and memorable, but without falling toward a "punk" sound—it's still just beefy hardcore. Great, great track.

"Path of the Righteous" contains the most PMA-centric lyrics, I guess you'd say. A little longer and heavier than the other cuts, its chorus definitely leans the hardest on bouncy grooves. "Still Bleeding" then cranks out another cool bass intro—this time much more melodic—while its central rhythms take the chunky heaviness of its predecessor and infuse a faster-paced attack. Definitely the runner-up to "The Ride," in my book.

The CD and digital bonus tracks are covers of the legendary Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today—with "Big Mouth" and "Choose to Be," respectively—and you can't really go wrong there, can you?

I haven't seen the physical release, so I can't speak to the packaging, but the recording sounds damn fine to my ears. Everything is nice and dense, but neither muddy nor "metal"; and while guitars dominate, the killer bass tone makes its presence obviously known, which is always a plus. No complaints.

Heavy, true-to-form hardcore just kind of is what it is, and The Last Stand demonstrates a pretty flawless execution of the genre's fundamental essence. If you like what you hear, This is Real hits digital outlets in just over a week on June 9th, but you can pick up a physical copy right now...

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