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Paint it Black – Paradise

A lot of hardcore has become watered down and cheap, Paint It Black are what you call a throw back to the “good ol’ days.”

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If you were to come up to me on the street and tell me there was a band out there that delivers powerful, riveting, hardcore music in 14 songs under 22 minutes, I would laugh in your face and walk away. Irrational, imprudent me; there is a band out there and they are called Paint It Black. Comprised of former members of Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, there should be no surprise then that Paint It Black are dynamic and vigorous. When you actually think of how many bands could pull off 14 songs in a measly 20 something minutes, well you think back to Lifetime and Kid Dynamite; bands that never gave a shit about industry standards and big wigs. That’s the type of vibe Paint It Black give off; in-your-face, earsplitting attitude.

Don’t think though that these guys don’t have a lot to say just because they get their point across way quicker than most bands. In fact, this album is more than just a little politically charged. There is no holding back at all. Right from the start, the opening track, “Election Day” breaths fire; “Last call for the bloodsuckers, cheaters, and parasites / You’ve been relieved of duty, so let’s call it a night / You’d better sleep tight, and get your head right.” No doubt that the album title, Paradise, is a metaphor of irony and mockery as the lyrics on the album are anything close to resembling “paradise” in any form. The lyrics also feature a ton of anger and irritation as displayed on the song “Nicaragua;” “You better watch who you call “backwards” & who you call “uncivilized” / Treating people like pigeons / I hope they peck out your eyes / Throwing crumbs and passing judgment /  Nobody asked you to import that shit.” So charged with emotion you have to wonder how spent vocalist Dan Yemin must be after a performance.

Short songs would have most thinking there isn’t much room for creativity. Far from the truth again as most songs will leave the listener wondering how they managed to pack so much sound into such neatly packaged, short songs. With drums that crash as fast and aggressive as can be, each song is powered by the rhythm and tempo of the percussions. Add in some guitar work that adds momentum to the music and you’re really left with the feeling that you’ve just been punched in the chest.

A lot of hardcore has become watered down and cheap, Paint It Black are what you call a throw back to the “good ol’ days.” They play it the way it was intended to be delivered; with precision, power, passion and aggression. If you’ve been longing for fire and energy in your music, look no further than Paint It Black.

(Jade Tree Records)

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The Ritualists – Painted People

The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music

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ritualists

After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.

“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.

Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.

“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.

There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.

(Out Of Line Music)

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The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk

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The Decline

It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.

Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.

From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).

Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.

(Pee Records / Thousand Islands Records / Disconnect Disconnect Records / Bearded Punk Records)

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