With a couple albums already under their belt, Rockledge, Florida hardcore band Call To Preserve has stepped up to plate to present another homage to hardcore classics, entitled Life of Defiance. With a title so perfectly describing the entire history of hardcore, the sound that follows is no surprise at all. Throw on your baggy shorts and unzipped hoodies and ready your frowns and clenched fists for a basic introduction to everything hardcore is about.
Low, drawling guitars grunge forward on the opening title track, followed by a slow bass line and the gravelly introduction to John's vocals on the album. It seems to build up to some somewhat of a faster pace, but comes to a close, leaving the same taste as the start, then moves into "Drawing Lines On All Sides" and finally sharpens some of its edges in pure, uncontrolled hardcore. The drums blast on and very moody guitars back it up with emotionally driven chords that hearken back to the days of the old school 80s hardcore.
Two traditionally short songs down, and "Empty Promises" begins quite identically to the previous track, angry guitars tempting you over a kick drum setting the mood in very stylistic format. The vocals are brutish and intimidating but well done in their style. Clearly, the stereotype of "tough guy" hardcore hasn't assuaged CTP's delight in delivering very predictable hardcore, song after song. "The Weight" opens up, or rather builds up to aggressive chord progression and fast 2/2 drumming from Mike. While this staple can't easily be removed from such a proud hardcore style, he also takes time in between to overdo his drum roll fills.
Critically speaking, the drumming is very clean and well recorded, but not very creative, giving only what is necessary, adding very little colour of his own. The guitars, as well, contribute nothing extraordinary at all, feeding the fire with constant chord changes. The vocals at the same time are sorely monotone, filling in more as noise than as music. And after a while, it gets a little tiring hearing the same thing fill every song.
"Desoto," however, alleviates the stagnant air of monotony by adding low, flowery melodies to the mix, and a twang that is unmistakably country influenced. The harmonies in this track admittedly add a unique tone of urgency that is at least unheard on the rest of Life of Defiance. "Thin Skin" continues experimenting, as if the band realized that they may be on to something, but soon returns to another round of hurried beats and two steps.
The album nears its end in very little time at all, crunching away on its bass line/single drum beat formula, and the vocals start sounding less like they're singing to me and more like they're yelling at me. The tones that the guitars manage to mix together behind the drums and yells bring some life to the dry sound, but once again I find myself getting tired of the same old. And as "Last Look Back" begins the end to Life of Defiance, I thought back to nearly every other track, and considered how they all began the same! Boredom is slowly turning into irritation. There comes a point where it doesn't matter if the music is played well. Call To Preserve jams itself so tightly into the stereotype of hardcore that I wonder if they're pulling my leg. Throughout the entire album, they did not play a single note that hasn't been played by a hundred other bands.
On the other hand, each member plays with a clear passion for their music that can create fodder for a terrific live show, fanning the flames of all the angry hardcore kids, "pacing the pit," wearing their hoods up over their hats. But if this is the music that they love to play, they have my blessing, even if some musical range wouldn't kill them. Life of Defiance is everything that every hardcore album was ever known for, and I know there are a lot of Madball and Terror fans that are going to love seeing these songs played live. As an album though, it lacks in a lot of areas, particularly creativity. However, a good old fashion call back to roots never hurt anybody.- Review date: 6/10/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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