VULTURES UNITED - SAVAGES
As one of the final releases from Wrigleyville-based pop-punk kingpins Red Scare, I want to like VULTURES UNITED more than I actually do. The RIYL is THE BRONX, but that same swagger doesn’t really come through. I want to like the lyrics, but they’re not fully developed, or there’s points that seem, for lack of a better word, obvious.
Take track 2, “The Joy Divisions.” It’s a song about the Jewish women forced to prostitute in Nazi camps. It’s not news and it’s not surprising. Thanks to the band formerly called WARSAW (JOY DIVISION), the term enjoys currency. Which, again, it’s good that someone’s willing to bring it up, but the topic is one that’s been covered already (This lyrical logic would basically end the genre known as hardcore – Ed.).
That point, I think, encompasses my feelings about the record. It’s overall okay and its heart is seemingly in the right place (as seen by the explanations under the lyrics and the song to their girlfriends, “Salon Girls”) but Savages feels otherwise unremarkable. Yes, it rocks in spots (see “The Natives” and “Fine Night For An Exorcism”) but it doesn’t quite coalesce. Think a less discerning SUICIDE FILE and you’re more or less there. Unlike the Indecision band, it feels like VULTURES UNITED doesn’t quite know where to dig to find the gems. And when it sounds like the band has found comfort in something, the articulation is rough. “Haunted Houses In the City of Fountains” is about the foreclosure crisis and banking failures, but the chorus is about people with “big fucking knives in their backs.” Sigh.
Musically, it’s all noisy, charging guitar mayhem like THE BRONX and SUICIDE FILE, with aesthetic marching orders from PROPAGANDHI. The album art, though, has a neat little trick. There’s an image in grey hidden behind the lyrics, so if you look past the written words, you can see the images of Victorian sexism and violence, Nazi youth and another image that looks like a dude about to stab another dude with a knife. Anyway. It’s a thoughtful little meta-textual thing that someone ought to be congratulated for.
Savages doesn’t compel me to come back. There are moments of glory for the band, but too much static in between is a drain on my attention.
The promo material for this band is soaked in
strange references to making "Southern California the true heart
of hardcore again" and "bringing back a West Coast punk/hardcore
revival." I'm always wary of the scene battle rhetoric, because
usually when East/West is resorted to it masks a lack of content.
And the truth is, GftF will likely not be starting a scene revival
for the "few believers" with their generic delivery and
Basically, they sound like Bane with looser guitars and weaker lyrics;
they are fast and energetic at times, with shouting vocals and crunchy
guitars. The third track, "Eyeliner," sounds particularly
like a Bane clone, calling to mind "Snakes Among Us" with
its slow bass intro and staccato guitars layering it. Unfortunately,
they usually use only one chord progression and alternate the strum
or palm muting for choruses or breakdowns, which makes the record
feel tiring even though it doesn't even break twenty minutes in length.
The lyrics are also definitely on the mediocre side, for instance
in the first song: "When I see you again/You are going to wish
you were my friend," interspersed between shouted swear words.
I'm not sure what more to say about this but that GftF has a lot of
work ahead of them if they want to "behead the music worlds (sic)
version of 'punk.'"
I don't know when it became a "must" for insects to get
a grave. I always presumed smashing them on the wall with the bottom
of my shoes was a good enough burial ceremony. Anyway, I also presume
that Grave for the Fireflies isn't about burying insects, but about
killing the damn light-giving flies to end up in the dark. Grave for
the Fireflies hails from Southern California, and plays a pretty dark
kind of hardcore/punk. Influences range from Black Flag and the Nerve
Agents to Circle Jerks and The Murder City Devils. So it's pretty
damn hard, and at times pretty melodic. The songs are pretty basic,
but passionate. Some contain some cliche things, as do the song titles
about death, misery and other dark stuff. "Bitten" has it's
moments, but it can't keep me rockin' the whole 11 songs.
Maximum Rock n' Roll
I can't go into this review without saying that I think their band
name is ridiculously dumb (although they must be named after that
anime flick with the same name). With that said, GRAVE FOR THE FIREFLIES
cranks out some upbeat hardcore tunes with a very polished production.
The music is catchy and energetic and the vocals are strong throughout.
But I prefer my tunes with more grit and aggression and this didn't
really float my boat. Fans of the NERVE AGENTS should take note. -
THE BIG TAKEOVER
Bleeder Resistor "Sixteen" / Grave for the Fireflies "Bitten"
Baltimore meets So Cal on two hardcore cd's from Basement. Bleeder
Resistor, led by ex-Latchkey's Jeff Forbes, continue the nearby tradition
from early Scream, Out of Step Minor Threat, and Dag Nasty, with a
pop thrash-hardcore mix six-song ep, full of shouty vocals and blastfurnace,
tight intensity. They have a song called "We Are the Ones"
that's not an Avengers cover, "Deade Cities" isn't the Exploited
single, and "Sixteen" isn't the Buzzcocks song, but they're
good old style all the way. Conversely, Grave for the Fireflies, today's
Circle One, are less interesting thanks to excruciating screaming
that passes for vocals (making Dez Cadena and Henry Rollins circa
"Police Story" sound like Barry Gibb). Still, knowing they're
from the OC, that bastion of conservative stilted suburbia, makes
their inchoate hatred ("You in a Body Bag Would Teach Me How
To Smile"), fervent disrespect ("Dead Poets Society"),
and nihilism ("Bite Marks") cathartic somehow, for all stuck
in Laguna Niguel-land!
BIG WHEEL MAGAZINE
This is pretty bad if you ask me. Is this what vampires listen to?
I hope not. I'd like to think they listen to Slayer. Any vampire who
listens to this probably gets their blood from robbing donation drives.
The vocals are weak with no oomph whatsoever. The music is lackluster
of any redeemable quality. Is it Goth, or punk or psychobilly? No
genre would hone this band. Lame vampire music, that's what this is.
Sorry Grave For The BUTTERflies, but you will not find a fan of me.