2004 Victory Records
01. The Massive
02. Fire In the Hole
03. Stab You ThroughThe Everything
05. The Soundtrack To A Glamorous Goodbye
06. Jailhouse Reb MP3
07. Misery Street
08. Dear Furious
09. Beating A Dead Horse
10. Marco Polo
11. We All Fall Down
I'm not really sure of their whole roster, but I think A18 (somtimes called Amendment 18) is one of two or three actual hardcore bands left on Victory Records. I've never really heard a lot of their stuff before but I don't recall ever having been impressed by what I had heard. Dear Furious may not have changed that entirely, but it definitely has its moments. A18's intensity harkens back to the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front and their ferocity calls to mind the various "crossover" acts that bridged the gaps between metal and hardcore so many years before metal-core became prevalent.
The first in a string of sparkling moments on this disc happens three tracks in. Until this point I was listening rather casually, but the lyrics of "Stab You Through The Everything" are so brutally blunt that it demanded my attention. The opening line of "I fucking hate you / The old fashioned way where I want you dead" pretty much sums up the go-for-the-throat approach that A18 isn't afraid to use lyrically. The song keeps going strong from there, as does the rest of the record. On "Beating A Dead Horse" vocalist Isaac Golub actually has me convinced that he'll be playing in a hardcore band until he's no longer physically capable. The guest vocals from Terror's Scott Vogel were definitely the appropriate choice here for the "This is my life" message of the song. All but the disc's final cut and the instrumental track are strong here.
This record was produced by Paul Miner whose work always tends to be solid without being noticeably brilliant. For A18, this works great because anything flashier would have taken away from the raw power this disc possesses. The bass sounds remarkably clear and the guitar chugs with a chunkiness that never strays into "muddy." In general, the percussion is good. My ears might be playing tricks on me, but I'm pretty sure the cymbals are blending in a little too much for my taste. The only thing I found particularly distasteful about this record was the obtrusive use of sampled dialogue from movies and such. Otherwise, the sound thoroughly complemented the band's fury. When people use the term "no-frills hardcore," A18 is precisely what they mean. This is hardcore punk rock in all its stripped-down glory.
Bottom Line: Love them or hate them, there is no denying that A18 is not a band motivated by trends, fashion or popularity. This is a band playing the music they love for themselves and it shows. "Dear Furious" probably isn't going to be one of my contenders for record of the year but just listening to it is honestly very uplifting. If heart really was everything, these guys could be the undisputed champions of hardcore. If you like hardcore, you owe it to yourself to listen to this record. Punk attitude, thrashy goodness and spot-on lyrics make this one of the best Victory releases in years.