No Warning came from humble Canadian beginnings to doing tours with Hatebreed, Linkin Park, and even Snoop Dogg. Yes, Snoop Dogg. No Warning was a band that took me a while to get into. Their self titled irritated me and Suffer, Survive was one of the worst things I ever listened to. Ill Blood always fell between these lines and I never cared to give it an in depth listen. When I decided to give it another listen, my appreciation for this record hit the roof. No Warning's Ill Blood definitely lives up to it's reputation of releasing one of the most crucial Hardcore albums of their era.
For a Hardcore full length, what you see is what you get. Short and relentless. The longest track barely reaches the three minute mark and the shortest doesn't even meet one minute. Behind These Walls is the listener's first hit straight to the teeth. No Warning continues to knock out a tooth with every song on the album. The energy is relentless and only a few bands can truly compare. Almost every song flawlessly transitions from break-neck speeds to slower, aggression inciting parts. A good example is the song Over My Shoulder which literally begins as the fastest part of the album and ends as the slowest part, typically a transition like this would be off-putting, but No Warning is able to do it flawlessly in that short one minute track.
Vocalist Ben Cook (now of F ucked up fame) is an antagonistic, harsh vocalist, but it is more complex and is far more exceptional than that of many of the bands No Warning are pitted against. Another thing to note is that he is audible, this was a hard thing to find at the beginning of the decade. Speaking of the beginning of the decade, knowing the time this album was released, I'm sure you can predict what the lyrical content of each song is going to be. To summarize: He doesn't need you, he hates you, you're in his way, he won't change for you, you're wasting his time, and he wants you to shut up. However, Cook does display some glass is half full mentality in the title track with the lines, “Always keep the future in mind, always fighting to make it right.” Other than that, don't expect any themes that are not misanthropic and nihilistic.
Short Fuse is the defining track on Ill Blood. It's the perfect blend of fast and slow, energetic and aggressive Hardcore. It serves as an example of how Hardcore should be played. The song has a few distinct parts, it's opening segment of slow and aggressive playing that quickly switches to a faster pace as Ben enthusiastically shouts out 'Bust!' The song then continues to dance between slower, two-step worthy playing and energetic sing along moments. This all comes to a head in the final segment of the song which begins with some ominous bass playing that explodes into a final, head crushing breakdown. Short Fuse truly captures everything that is good and fun about Hardcore in it's three minutes and does it right.
It was a real shame that this band released the radio friendly Suffer, Survive after Ill Blood and in my mind became Nü Warning, because Ill Blood stands as one of the best releases in Hardcore for it's time and made making good Hardcore look like a cake walk. The album lacks any real technicality, but what do you expect in straight 2003 Hardcore? Regardless, what this album does not do in the technical department, it makes up with it's energy and it's relentlessness over it's half hour onslaught. Ill Blood definitely is able to defend it's reputation and is able to single-handedly put the otherwise uninteresting No Warning ahead of it's contemporaries.