"Dedication" by Raised Fist was probably the first Hardcore record ever I bought and that stayed on my playlist for a LONG time. That was back in 2002. I almost forgot about this band over the years though, and was very pleased to hear that a new albums coming around. Now I finally got it, and to be honest: the long wait was well worth it.
"Sound of the Republic" is a great, if not excellent effort by the Swedish Hardcore formation. As usual, the playtime is not that long, but ok with roughly over 37 minutes overall. But all that is compensated by the energy the songs transport. Even after four years on pause, from the first part of the vocals you can be sure: this is Raised Fist. The voice of singer Alle is really a trademark of the band, and so far I have not heard any vocalist I could confuse with this guy. What is a good thing, but also bad at the same time. The screaming and singing was always pretty much the same on all songs. The more I was suprised that there are melodic parts present here. Not on all songs, don't worry. This is not turning into the "KsE-thing" with screamed verse and melodic chorus. The melodic parts (sometimes only kind of spoken) are present on just a few tracks (like "Killing it" or the title track as examples). It's enough though to give an interesting new view on Raised Fist's melodic side. No fear to take a quick trip to other genres either. A bit more straight Rock (Killing It), Metal influenced guitar leads (And then they run) and overall a lot more melodies than previously known by this band.
This is also notable in the guitar work. One of the guitarists lays down the usual hymn like guitar walls you know from "Dedication". The other sets melodic and interesting leads here and there, which is something that this band is not overly known for. Interesting progression, as it adds to the mood of the songs. Sure, the main emotion the songs transport is anger. But through the guitar work more shades and aspects are added: Dissapointment, despair and a little touch of melancholy here and there. The mix of the guitars is very good as well, as almost no details get lost. That was a real problem with some songs on "Dedication".
Overall I get the feeling that this record comes over faster compared to it's precessor. Partly this comes from the drums. I mean, the guy always was insane. About 90% of the time he gives me the picture of Monster from the Muppet Show, just drumming a beat freakin fast. Which is cool and fun to listen to, but it gets kinda repetitive over time. There is not as much variation present here (like little drum solos or similar). Bass? Don't mention it. It's 'rooting', and often barely heard. Same problem here with the mix as many Metalcore bands have today. Sad but true. The rock solid base the drums present give the guitars more place to shine though, which compensates fot the lack of bass and drum variation.
The grammar and setup of the lyrics could be better here and there, some mistakes make me cringe a bit. And I'm not a native speaker... The topics of the songs are nothing groundbreaking new either, criticism of the economy and society, the personal disputes with 'friends' and 'fakes'. Could be worse though, and the lyrics sure are honest. What really is a downer though are some overused elements in the songs. I'm especially thinking of the many breaks that are intending to make you believe the song is over. Just to go on after a second or two. It adds to most of the songs, and works absolutely on the individual songs. Over the length of the record it's a bit too much here and there, as this comes up in a lot of the twele tracks.
Adding all this up: With "Sound of the Republic" Raised Fist present a great 'comeback' after 4 years of vacation. The use of new melodic elements (guitar as well as vocals), solid production and almost neverending energy transported by the tracks makes this a great record. Even with said flaws. Interested in modern Hardcore that still knows where the roots are? This could be for you. If you are looking for a lot of variation in singing and vocal melodies though, you might want to look somewhere else. Either you can arrange yourself with Alles performance, or leave this alone. As the vocals are pretty similar on all tracks, chances are you hate them always if you can't stand em on one track. Otherwise you're in for a great time.
I give this nothing less than 4.5/5. The band stays true to their sound and remain individual, while still progressing with their work. Excellent!
Suggested tracks to check out:
Sound of the Republic
And then they run
Be sure to check out some of their new songs over at their MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/raisedfist