Thursday, August 10, 2017

Album Review: In Evil Hour - Lights Down

What do I know about punk and/or hardcore music? If I'm being honest, the answer is not much, since my favorite punk album is the least punk album Bad Religion admits exists (that would be "The Dissent Of Man", which is phenomenal). When it comes to grittier punk, I don't have much experience with the form. But considering the political climate all around the world, and my expectation that the fury being felt is going to propel a new wave of angry young bands, I thought it to be an appropriate time to dip my feet into the pool. To do so, I'm starting with the UK's In Evil Hour, whose melodic punk/hardcore is one of the early entries into our new political uprising.

"Binding Ropes" kicks things off with a riff, and a guitar tone, that is more heavy metal than pure punk. But once the chorus comes along, and the backing vocals pop up, that Bad Religion/AFI style of punk is made very clear. When it's done well, it hits just the right balance between bristling energy and anthemic shout-along. That's pretty much what In Evil Hour is able to do on this song. It's a fine opening statement.

"Enemy Within" follows with a sound that references not only AFI, but some of The Offspring's better singles, if they hadn't polished off all the rough edges. Keeping in mind that while The Offspring are rather bland and lousy now, they were once a really good band, so recalling those days is a worthy comparison to make. Not only that, but the song contains a breakdown that is surprisingly heavy, and Al's vocals shift from her gritty singing into a full on swallowed-glass roar. In a small dose like that, it definitely drives the point home.

In "Bitter", she sings "every day I feel a little more unsure". Isn't that how we all feel, as the world seems to be crumbling around us?

The band has a DIY charm to their music. "Lights Down" isn't a slick record with a sheen of money emanating off it. It's a record that feels more homespun, which makes it feel more authentic. Much like how it's ridiculous to hear a band of millionaires like Metallica still trying to write songs about being angry and young, punk like this wouldn't work if it sounded clinical and spotless. I actually quite enjoy hearing the humanity of the performances. Hitting the feeling is often more important than hitting the notes.

I went into this album having never heard In Evil Hour before, having only just discovered them as I read through a list of upcoming releases. They intrigued me enough to inquire deeper, and I'm glad I did. I won't try to say what the true punk fan is going to think of "Lights Down", but I can say that this is the kind of punk that I can get behind. It's political and angry, but it retains a melodic sense that remembers a subversive message goes down better when it's hidden in a catchy tune.

"Lights Down" is a record that hits the mark. I don't have the disposition of a punk rebel, but for a few minutes, In Evil Hour made it sound appealing. Definitely recommended.

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