Another bold, proud release from one of hardcore's most consistently quality acts.
Since 2000, Richmond VA quintet Down to Nothing have been delivering album after album of wholly authentic straight edge hardcore. On fifth record 'Life on the James' the band holds strong to the fire that's fuelled their output for over a decade, jam packed full of energy, memorable hooks and choruses, and a sense of “hometown pride” that ensures it will resonate with listeners, while giving it a personal edge – the album's title is a reference to the James River in Virginia.
It has been a long time since the group's last full-length album – 2007's 'The Most'. However, moments into opener 'When I Rest I Rust' any fears about whether or not the five-piece are still capable of bringing it are vehemently quelled. This is classic DTN – ferocious, fast-paced and passionate. It's not so much that the band change their sound up or bring anything wildly different to the table; it's simply that it's so distinctively DTN, with the band absolutely nailing their strong points.
That said, there are some more interesting things going on beneath the surface. Title track 'Life on the James' has subtle skate-punk elements underneath, with a super-catchy chorus to boot. 'Brothers Turned Strangers' is narrowly the most enjoyable track on the album – mainly because it encapsulates in just over two minutes everything that makes Down to Nothing great. Self-assured and resilient, the song's lyrics lament a broken friendship - “You say we grew apart / I say you threw it away”.
Recorded with Nick Jett of hardcore icons Terror – who share a member with Down to Nothing in bassist David Wood – the album sounds clean without sacrificing bite. Jett has earned a reputation for balancing aggression with production values and it works a treat on 'Life on the James'.
One of hardcore's most impassioned, sincere acts provide their finest work yet, taking their best elements and delivering with vigour and maturity. An altogether sincere and unpretentious collection of tracks, the dozen songs on 'Life on the James' see a band at the top of their game. One of the finest hardcore releases of 2013.
1. When I Rest I Rust
2. Dirty South
3. Life on the James
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5. No Leash
7. Brothers Turned Strangers
8. Island Time
10. Soak It Up
11. Fish Ain't Bitin
12. Draw 4