Review Summary: Fun fact: this band is directly next to The Backstreet Boys in the Sputnikmusic database2 of 2 thought this review was well written
In my experience, Long Islanders are the fu
cking worst as far as Northeasterns come (withholding Jerseyans, obviously... I mean, it wouldn’t even be fair to include them). Residents of Long Island have a tendency to be obnoxious, crass, and overbearingly irritating; and unlike Bostoners who seem to stick to their chilly homes in Massachusetts, L.I.‘ers somehow feel the need to share themselves with the rest of the East Coast.
I’d like to say that Backtrack distinguish themselves from this ilk and it can be seen through their brand of hardcore punk; yet I cannot, as the exact opposite is the case. Darker Half
is a grossly abrasive effort, turned to 11 as some might say. Still, throughout the 23-minute album, the band is focused and never loses intensity, and their ire is more pointed and efficient because of it.
The draw to Darker Half
isn’t in the technique as much as it is in the execution. They play to their strengths, and one of those seems to be a knack for incorporating similarly-styled songs together without inducing dullness or tedium, as is often the case. While it is fairly conventional in its scope and therefore lacks many defining factors that would separate Backtrack from their peers more wholly, Darker Half
is a solid album as any in the modern hardcore realm and it proves that they should be more relevant in today’s hardcore discussion.
Admittedly, one of my favorite aspects about Backtrack isn’t solely their adeptness at performing the NYHC sound to a “t,” but rather their avoidance of pitfalls. Sure, Darker Half
is hard-hitting, but I find it more impressive that they achieve such a roiled fervor without succumbing to songwriting that centers on breakdowns. Tracks like “Darker Half” tend to get a bit chugg-heavy and tiresome at points, but the majority is well-paced. More often than not, the tracks are fluid and seamless, much the Darker Half
is in totality.
There is a negligence of any single-track highlights, but in a hardcore record as short as Darker Half
, who really needs the Sparknotes version when the album is so terse? The intensity here is palpable, like a solid that coagulates into your ears-- a hardcore version of the “wall of sound” effect, if you will. All in all this makes for a listen that may not be wrought with creativity, but is nonetheless overflowing with passion.