Review Summary: Original hardcore? No way, dude...
No one wants to read yet another intro paragraph about how genre x has become stagnant and boring, but let's face it: it is frustratingly difficult to find a completely original hardcore band in the present day and age. It's not to say that hardcore bands are generally boring, as even a few incredibly unoriginal acts have created noteworthy records, but there is certainly a lack of inventiveness within the scene. California hardcore act Chotto Ghetto
, signed to Quote Unquote Records, have, in this sense, accomplished an exceedingly difficult feat. They have created 19 minutes of so-called "progressive hardcore" that is, in fact, completely unique and non-derivative. Sure, their sophomore record Walk Is Godlike
clearly displays some influences from other bands, as it's completely impossible to make music without them, but that's all they are: influences. There is a fine line between influence and plagiarism, and Chotto Ghetto
are miles away from it.
For those who are also OCD about their iTunes genre fields, as mentioned before, this album could easily be categorized as progressive hardcore. Of course, when trying to describe a band's music by two or three words there will always be inherent inaccuracies but this tag is the most fitting descriptor possible for Chotto Ghetto
's music. There are hardcore aspects aplenty here. The vocals toe the line between energetic and harsh, the production is rough, and the bass is just as integral a part of the music as are the guitars. Like a typical hardcore album, Walk Is Godlike
is under 20 minutes, making it a perfect fit for those who are short on time or who have short attention spans. However, as pointed to by the "progressive part" of "progressive hardcore" this is not an easy listen (by hardcore standards), even if it is relatively brief. A song's time signatures will change more than the average listener can count and a good portion of the guitar and basslines are complex to a level that is generally uncharacteristic for hardcore music. Chotto Ghetto
even add proggy instrumental breaks into their music (Liquid Diamond Lipstick
, Midnight Noir
) that shake things up by incorporating jazzy horns into their sub-2-minute durations. The music also showcases variety in the percussion section through its use of unconventional techniques such as bongos, especially during the songs' softer sections.
The best thing about Walk Is Godlike
is that even at its most progressive it never becomes tedious. It's not an easy listen at all, as there is far too much to absorb here for it to be listened to passively, but it is always incredibly, mind-bendingly fun
. From the jazzy, bass-dominated sections in closer Tattooed Holidays
to the almost danceable rhythms and the delicious solo of In the Warehouse of the 7 Sins
to the wonderfully riffy catchiness of Between King and Clean
this is an album that manages to be both uncommonly intelligent and surprisingly bouncy at the same time. It also helps that there's a real sense that the band members themselves had a really good time making this. Walk Is Godlike
has an almost garage-band-ish vibe throughout, both in its unpolished-but-not-quite-raw production and the tangible bounciness that emanates from every energetic vocal section and every groovy bassline of the entire album. It's not a classic, and Chotto Ghetto
certainly have a few issues to work out (namely a lack of cohesiveness and a feeling of this album being sort of thrown together without too much thought at some points) before they can come anywhere close to making one, but with their obvious passion for music and their completely original take on hardcore, this Cali act is one to watch out for.