Review Summary: The fundamentals of hardcore punk are all here, with plenty more to boot.
Hailing from the south coast of England, Brighton's hardcore punk outfit "Phinius Gage" released their second studio album to critical acclaim in March of 2007. Seek Out Your Foes (SOYF) is an album simple in concept. It's, hard, fast, and many of the other adjectives found synonymously within the biographies of many a hardcore punk band. SOYF sees a change of lineup and a change of record label from their previous album "The Feeling Something’s Wrong."
SOYF at a mere 31 minutes retains the aforementioned quintessential elements of melodic hardcore punk throughout with the only respite being the acoustic track "Provocation Song." The record gets off to a blistering start, which is always necessary on an album of this type with the single "Battered and Bruised." A pounding bassline is evident throughout and some speedy kick-drum action is provided by Mike Scott and Matt Steele respectively. Steele especially is particularly impressive on the album with some solid, effective drumming.
The hardcore element of the band is briefly entertained in the title track SOYF with some gang vocals and aggressive lyrics. The back end of the title track provides scope for some rapid guitar soloing. However another staple of the hardcore punk diet is not utilized to greatest effect (for better or for worse depending on your opinion) until "Stop Looking Up". This is of course the half-speed, guitar heavy breakdown section. Although nothing spectacular of its own accord it provides welcome relief from the otherwise full-out approach to the album. This approach runs from tracks 1 through to 9, barely stopping to catch a breath. Every song contained within the first nine tracks is real ‘rock out’ stuff which would give precedent to much ‘pitting’ action at any gig worth it’s salt.
Vocally the album may not be to everybody’s taste. For the Melodic Hardcore band that they tout themselves as, Ade Holder's vocals do not display, to any great extent, either of the above characteristics. His vocal style, at best, would be described as "a grower", but it does fit unexpectedly well with the bands energetic approach to the genre. The same cannot be said for the backing vocals (not gang vocals) on the album which are generally terrible especially on the track "Temptation.” While only brief, the poor vocals really throw the listener off track. This the only main downside to what is otherwise an enthusiastic, effortful and well produced album
In sum, fans of the Melodic Hardcore genre, to which Phinius Gage also claim to be, (Their band profile on Myspace shows their influences as Rise Against, Ignite etc) will enjoy this album for its rapidity and the effort shown throughout. Stand out tracks are Battered and Bruised, SOYF, Stop Looking Up and Traffic Lights Party. This is only the second album from the band and whilst there is room for improvement, the fundamental aspects of good, hearty melodic hardcore prevail. This subsequently rewards Phinius Gage with an album that will go a long way to promoting them towards the upper echelons of the genre.
N.B. most of the bands best work is available for download at their Myspace web page