Review: Wisdom in Chains “Die Young” CD

This follow-up full-length sees Wisdom in Chains ditching the international lineup in favor of a more convenient American roster that continues to deliver the brand of heavy yet diverse hardcore found on their debut. Unfortunately the recording leaves a little to be desired since the guitar tone has a bit of a midrange sheen over it that holds back some of the heaviness and ends up sounding a little thin, while the basslines are pretty hard to make out and some of the drum tones are too rigid, but I'm pleased to report that the songs are really damn good. Expect 17 short tracks that almost never hit three minutes and combine old school hardcore with chunky metallic power chords and melodic punk rock sensibilities in the form of some oi/street punk kinds of undercurrents on occasion. "One of These Days" is among the catchier songs (despite keeping the melody rather minimal) that immediately jumps out as one of the more memorable cuts that really shows a lot of songwriting ability both in terms of the music and the vocal arrangements, and "Fade" amps up the sing-along factor even more by tossing in some street punk types of influences, whereas "Dragging Me Down" is chock full of melodic accents with octave chords and lead lines and whatnot. "Die Young" is among the few tracks that actually has a chunky breakdown involved, "Too Far Gone" is among the thicker tracks that has more of a classic metallic hardcore sound at times, and of course "Smash Your Face" is faster and more pissed off than most of the other songs. The layout's nothing to write home about, mainly just some tattoo styled illustrations and loads of text over black backgrounds. The lyrics are largely dealing with personal introspection and whatnot in a pretty straightforward manner, with a few more aggressive tracks dealing with a hardass kind of stance and stuff, but most of the material's a little different than what a lot of people might expect: "Lately I've been thinking about this loveless world and all the evil shit I've done and all the times I've been wrong. I've never met a righteous face. Heaven must be an empty place, or else it's full of people like me..." Good stuff overall. It's a shame the recording's not stronger, though, as that would've made a major difference here. Aside from a couple of songs like "Get to Steppin'" that are a little too raw performance-wise, the bulk of this material's really fuckin' memorable, and a heavier, more fluid set of recording values could allow these cats to really leave a mark at some point. Hopefully the new lineup will keep the band a little more active in the future and let them iron out some of those kinks to really get down to business?

[Spook City]
Running time - 35:02, Tracks: 17
[Notable tracks: One of These Days, Fade, Dragging Me Down, Out of Season, Smash Your Face]
Spook City Records -