For Fans Of
After The Fall’s in-your-face brand of punk hardcore has ten years of experience behind it – ten years of experience, that is, in producing the very substance of the scene’s most viciously fast paced and melodically palatable punk rock. Their most recent release brings us ‘Unkind,’ a record that surrender’s everything the band have over to listeners whose tongues and pens are already pegging it to be one of the year’s best punk releases.
The title track ‘Unkind’ is everything that a title track should be: it’s an aggressive punk anthem that’s gritty and rough around the edges from the word go. Even for fans unfamiliar with ATF’s past work, it’s difficult not to realise that Unkind, although messy and full of fury, is something unique. ‘Disunion’ swaps the clean punk vocals heard in the first two tracks for an assaulting guttural scream that slathers on a thick, muddy layer of hardcore aggression. It’s the incessant persistence of the percussion and abusive stylizing of the riffs that is crucial to ATF’s heavy credibility, and these features can be heard in tracks like ‘Wrong,’ and ‘Controlled.’
‘Attention Dependant’ plays host to a clash of impossibly steadfast and rampant instrumental and vocal onslaughts, and a pinnacle moment on the album comes when the vocalist cries out “it all comes back to us in the end” to finish off the track with an explosive conclusion. It’s tracks like these that aim to jolt listeners out of their apathy like a shock of electricity. Indeed, Unkind’s lyrics are dark and depressing, but that’s not unusual for your archetypal melodic hardcore or punk outfit. What is unusual is the way in which ATF are able to craft their lyricism in way that is blunt but provoking.
In ‘Writer’s Block’ apathy and laziness are damned in the gritty clean vocals from before and melodic hooks and a steady punk rhythm hold the song together. ‘Back and Forth’ slices the brutality with a slightly more frank, lighter charm; it’s an earnest emo-punk track that talks of ending relationships and of touring. ‘Double Negative‘ takes its cue from ‘Writer’s Block’ with a slightly Defeater-esque style with lyrics like “I’d just rather stay asleep and be alone today.” It’s almost like Unkind, in all its complexities, has a split personality – a non-nonsense anti-passive hardcore sensibility and a slightly more defeatist emo-punk charm.
Regardless of the direction the band are going in it’s the final track, ‘Decade’ that sees these two personalities culminate to give us ATF’s quality hardcore punk branding and could very well be a crowd favorite at future shows.
So, the question remains, does Unkind manage to stand up on the pedestal on which it has been placed? The answer is undoubtedly a hearty ‘yes.’ Unkind is as diverse and as brutal as all its hype had predicted, and this review only confirms its inevitable success in 2013.
6. Attention Dependent
7. Writer’s Block
8. Back And Forth
9. Double Negative