Ringworm Justice Replaced By Revenge
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01. Justice Replaced By Revenge
02. No One Dies Alone
03. Seeing Through These Eyes
04. House of Hell
05. Day of Truth
06. Whiskey Drunk
07. God Eat God
08. Ghosts of the Past
10. Devil's Kiss
11. Death Is Not an Option
12. No More Heroes
13. Life After The End of the World
Reviewed by: Cory
// Published: 11/25/2005
Ringworm is something of an anomaly in the music world. Their first release, The Promise, was highly influential at the time of its release in 1993, and alongside hardcore legends Integrity, the band helped usher in a new age of metallic hardcore before breaking up only a few years later. Almost a decade after their debut, Ringworm reformed and released Birth Is Pain, an album that oddly filled a void left by Integrity's musical turn for the worse at the turn of the century. Four years later, Ringworm returns yet again with Justice Replaced By Revenge, an absolute success and reminder that what was true about hardcore in 1993 still holds true in 2005. As usual, the lineup has shifted a bit, but rest assured that the Human Furnace, Frank "3-Gun" Novinec, and Matt Sorg have returned, alongside new recruits Danny Zink (ex-Pitboss 2000) and Steve Rauchorst. Ringworm sounds better in this incarnation than ever before.
The album leads off with the title track, one of the angriest, heaviest tracks the band has ever written and it doesn't let up from there. Each track, aside from the Metallica-esque interlude "Whiskey Drunk," is incredibly fast, incredibly heavy hardcore with a metallic edge on it. It's not "metalcore" in the most recent sense, as the metal almost always serves to accent the hardcore side of things, but the songs aren't built around them. Additionally, the "metal" that influenced these guys is definitely of the Venom or Nuclear Assault variety, unlike most of the younger bands playing now. "Thrive" even successfully incorporates a Slayer riff without it sounding awkward or stolen, something Hatebreed has been attempting for years now.
In his times away from Ringworm, Novinec has played guitar for Terror and Integrity, both of which feature incredible vocalists, but Human Furnace's distinctive scream easily ranks among hardcore's best. In addition, whether blaspheming ("God Eat God") or meditating on the very nature of death ("No One Dies Alone," "Death Is Not An Option"), his lyrics always manage to be compelling. Because Ringworm has nothing to prove about their lifestyle or their dedication, they can write about topics of actual gravity and consequence.
Ringworm has upped the ante on everything here except, perhaps the production. The songs on Justice Replaced By Revenge are arguably their best. The guitar work is stepped up a notch, as evidenced by the increasingly agile solos that permeate the second half of the disc. Even the replacement of Integrity drummer Chris Dora with Danny Zink seems to have given them a boost of energy in the rhythm department and new bassist Steve Rauchorst seems more than able to lend support on bass. As spectacular as it all sounds, I can't help but feel like Ben Schigel's production sounds like a slightly less dense substitute for Bill Korecky's work with both Ringworm and Terror. In the end, I decided just to crank the bass and not let one minor flaw get in the way of my enjoyment.
Finally, I have to mention the very nice artwork, courtesy of Jake Bannon. For the first time, Ringworm has suitably evil and accomplished artwork to match the quality of their music. While it's not necessarily a huge departure from Bannon's usual style, it is a huge improvement on Ringworm's part. The artwork to Birth Is Pain looked like something a couple of middle-schoolers might have drawn up. Let's face it: sometimes people judge CDs by their cover and it's about time people looked at a Ringworm album cover and say "Wow, I want to buy that" instead of laughing and picking up an As I Lay Dying CD instead.
Bottom Line: I unilaterally recommend Ringworm's Justice Replaced By Revenge to any fan of hardcore or metal. Any hardcore fan should already know and love them. Any metal fan should appreciate the intensity, chops and lack of bullshit hardcore posturing. Anyone who isn't familiar should run out and grab their entire catalog before anyone finds out. Justice Replaced By Revenge is another instant classic from one of hardcore's most consistently powerful bands.
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