Sunday, August 28, 2011

Balaclava - "Crimes of Faith" (2011) [Southern Lord/Forcefield Records]

New-age hardcore is something that is very hit or miss for my taste. I grew up on old-school punk and hardcore, so it is something near and dear to my heart. Considering the drove of absolutely awful bands to emerge from the hardcore community in the past ten years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with the style. Very few bands are creating brilliant hardcore or punk these days, but they certainly do exist. It all depends on how much trash you want to weed through to find them, me...not so much. Sometimes I get really lucky and score a big winner from and for the zine, something I am very thankful for. Balaclava is definitely in the group of winners.

Balaclava present a hybrid mish-mash of crust, tough-guy hardcore, noise-core and metal. Everything is seemless and organic, which is no easy feat. I would be quick to call this band metallic hardcore (don't you dare say metalcore) since the sound is very metallic, but the hardcore aura is undeniable. Dissonant chords clang out, chugs appear (not breakdowns) and the vocals are of the white-hot scathing quality. There are moments of Converge-esque atmosphere that serve as a vehicle to crush someone. There are also nods to the old-school (especially The Geometer's Hand) brand of hardcore with brief flairs of math-y intensity.

Needless to say this album encompasses all that hardcore is supposed to have: emotion, aggressiveness and over-the-top intensity. A true gem of hardcore brilliance. If Balaclava keeps up this kind of work, it is only a matter of time before they reach the upper echelon of hardcore greats. An absolutely recommended album, in every sense of the word. Outstanding!


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