Review Summary: Though not completely flawless, Introducing... is just what the doctor ordered for those that are already hardcore fans and still has just enough accessibility for those that aren't.
A couple years ago, I was educated as to what REAL hardcore really was. I found out it wasn't that From Autumn to Ashes bull*** that the kids around here tried to push on me. But regardless, I still couldn't find myself really enjoying this real hardcore. I mean, I absolutely loved the old school hardcore bands like the Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, and Black Flag. But I just was not digging this newer hardcore sound at all. I went on a small internet quest to try and find a new band that played in the older style of hardcore. It didn't take me too long before I found a band that seemed to be what I had searched for. This band was advertised as being so much like Black Flag, it was scary. I found a 30 second audio clip of "Up to my Neck" to put them to the test. They sounded pretty good, so soon after, I went out and took a gamble on The Bars' "Introducing..."
It may have been one of the better decisions I have made, musically, in my life. It's been years now, and to this day, Introducing... never ceases to amaze me. The album has seen constant plays over these years and, to this day, it's still just as good as the first time I put it in my car's CD player. If it wasn't for me picking up this very album, I may have never taken that first step into becoming a fan of hardcore like I am today.
But is this album, or even the band just a Black Flag rip-off in today's world?
No. Their name, "Bars", is an obvious homage to the famous 4 bars logo of Black Flag. And the band openly admits their love for the original hardcore kings. If you listen to their music with Black Flag in the back of your mind, then yeah, you'll see it. But really, if their name was something like Candypants and no one mentioned Black Flag when talking about them, you'd never guess. This is just as much an original band as any other band out there.
Introducing... starts off with a bang in "Bright Lights for Demise" which, in my opinion, is one of the strongest songs on the album. In this song, you get the taste of The Bars' unique style of hardcore. It's not a really blistering fast tempo seen in such bands as 7 Seconds, and it's not such a slow tempo that it becomes "metal-ish". The Bars go the mid-tempo route which very few bands in today's hardcore scene take. The result is a truly heavy Rock and Roll style of punk music that is very refreshing. This style can also be heard in songs like "You Are My Target Audience" and "Type Face Love Letter".
Really, I could give each of the 10 tracks on this album 5 stars outside of a few exceptions. "Too Far Down" breaks the mold The Bars had created up to that point. This is the one track on the album that can be classified as slow, but being slow isn't the problem. To me, this song just screams Alice In Chains. The song is a dark, somber piece that seems stolen right out of Alice In Chains' songbook. Now, I like Alice In Chains just as much as the next guy, but this really doesn't fit in with the rest of Introducing... at all. "Toecutter" and "Up To My Neck" are both solid songs, but I feel like they are missing something which keeps them from competing with the other songs off this CD. "Toecutter" has a fun verse and possibly the best breakdown on the album, but the chorus is just simply too long. The chorus is simple which is fine, but they repeat it every time which makes the song feel drawn out when all I wanna do is hurry up and get to that breakdown. "Up To My Neck" is just the opposite. While this song has an awesome chorus, it really lacks in the ability to keep my interest in that last 20 seconds of the song. These two songs need to mate and I'll be happy.
The album really ends on a high note in my favorite track off of it, "This Is It". When people talk about powerful songs, this one always comes to mind. The song builds up pretty slowly, but keeps you interested. Then it just blows up. The riff is just so catchy, it'll keep you listening the whole way through just to hear it some more. It's really hard to describe just how "powerful" this song is in plain old text. All I can say is you need to go give this song a listen.
And while you're at it, take a listen to the rest of the album. You won't regret it. Even the three songs I mentioned could use work, are above average songs when you put them up against most other music out there. They just seem slightly out of place when they're dead in the middle of the rest of these 5-star songs. Because of the very minor flaws, I can't give the entire album a 5, but I can put it close. It's a shame we probably won't be seeing much else from The Bars, but at least there's confidence in saying their catalogue doesn't include one bad album, right?
If you are already a fan of modern day hardcore, then this album still has plenty to offer. The best relation I can think of, is a heavier Suicide File. This album is a breath of fresh air in a genre that, as of late, is becoming increasingly stagnant. It won't be anything essentially groundbreaking for those already into the genre, but I can almost guarantee, you'll find yourselves in love with most of these songs. For the others, this pretty much single-handedly introduced me to modern hardcore years ago. So if you are like I was and haven't yet been acquainted with modern day hardcore, do yourself a favor and introduce yourself with Introducing...