Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Album Review: Rotting Out - The Wrong Way

Album Review: B+
Hardcore is more than just a genre: it's a lifestyle. It is a set of experiences that make or break a person, and those experiences further shape worldviews, political outlooks, and opening eyes to social norms that accompany a scene of brotherhood and comradery. Los Angeles hardcore act Rotting Out have taken the emotion, aggression, and experience collected from their lives, built upon it, and released their second LP The Wrong Way. The relentless album spans about twenty-six minutes of pure punk as narratives of loss, self-reflection, and abuse which culminate into one of the most vital hardcore records of the year.

 Opening anthem and eponymous album track “The Wrong Way” begins with a short clip of skateboarding soundbites as it ramps up. The thrashy skate-punk vibe sets the scene for the album. “Too young/to die/too young to die of old ways” is a catchy chorus sandwiched between gang-vocal woahs as the song rushes into the second track, “Blade of Rust.” Halfway through the song breaks down, perfect for wailing arms in windmills and stomping around the pit. “A Question” opens with one of the most infectious riffs on the album and closes with one of the most memorable lines, “The question is/what quest is this?” that is barked among several members in unison.

The highlights of the album shine in the slower tracks. “Stab” explores the maturity of a young boy as he snaps over into a violent lifestyle. It's a thought-provoking song as it closes with the line, “What would you do if it was you?” The song also acts as a resting point halfway through the album, allowing listeners to relax and focus intently on the lyrics. “No Clue” is one of the band's best songs, jumping between mid-tempo dance parts to flashy ripping blast beats ala Suicidal Tendencies. The song's start-stop structure and increasingly fast outro are key points that will keep your mind on the music. “Bangarang,” the album's closer, is the best song on the album. Comparative to “Iron-Jawed Angel” from their first release Street Prowl, the slow-tempo catharsis is another chance for the reader to reflect on themselves and their own lives. “ I want to be the moment you won't forget” will resonate, and the positivity emanates in the final minutes. “Give me the moment/give me the story” repeats as the song fades out.

Despite the albums strengths and universally relatable lyrics, later songs blur together and are lost in similar riffs, tempo and general song structure. “The Shootout” features a similar skateboard sound bit as “The Wrong Way,” and has a nearly identical opening riff to “A Question.” “Verbal Risk” is a quick hardcore banger that is just too brief to be memorable. Likewise, “Roots and Will” and “Three of Us” are strong tracks, but they fail to find traction after hearing such great compositions like “Stab and “No Clue.” To be clear, there are no bad songs on the album. In fact, each song flows together perfectly, just not in the way you want it to. On first listen, the album flies by and you'll be grasping at straws to find memories in songs outside of the first half and closer. After a few listens, songs become much more separable, but some listeners may not give the album that chance.

On The Wrong Way, one thing is clear: for Rotting Out, old-school hardcore is clearly the right way. The nostalgic feel of the skateboarding bits, nods to Suicidal Tendencies, and blurring of thrash, hardcore, and punk creates an angry, cohesive record. Perhaps too cohesive, some songs blend into the fray of chugs and yelled screams but it's not a deterrent to listening. Hardcore is alive and well, and Rotting Out are clearly relighting the torch. Give The Wrong Way a listen and try not to scrape your knees on the way down.

The Wrong Way is available today. You can stream the album on Alternative Press and on Spotify. You can purchase the album on iTunes or Amazon. You can also order the vinyl here.  

  • Tracklist:
  1. The Wrong Way
  2. Blade of Rust
  3. One More kIss
  4. A Question
  5. Stab
  6. The Shoot Out
  7. Verbal Risk
  8. No Clue
  9. Roots & Will
  10. Three of Us
  11. Bangarang

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