The first time i listened to this album i really was not sure what to expect because i had only been told about this band a few days earlier from a friend of a friend who said that they were simply 'f-ing awesome', little did i know that this would come to be one of my favorite albums of all time. Vengeance by Tragedy is a masterpiece of modern hardcore fusing hints of old school punk rock, metal, and thrash all filtered through a d-beat hardcore lens. This is the second album by this Portland, OR outfit following their acclamed self titled debut. I would also like to mention that the guitar tone in partictular f-ing kills on this recording, it's so thick and crunchy yet not over-the-top at all. Now that you have the basic idea, i'll go on to the track-by-track review.
1. Conflicting Ideas
This song easily has one of my favorite intros in a song ever. Period. It starts off with both guitars hitting the same chord once, then as it slowly transforms into feedback the drums come in playing a variaton of a d-beat using the toms and bass that WILL make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because you know what's about to be unleashed. Then one of the guitars comes in with a riff while the other keeps the feedback droning away in the backround which adds to the tension. Finally everything comes in with a burst of energy playing the same riff as before, but completely full throttle with both guitars and a 'regular' drum beat, as well as vocals from guitarist Todd Burdette. When the vocals enter, the riff changes. It then goes back to a recap of the intro, with bass player Billy Davis doing vocals. The pattern repeats again, then it goes silent for a second or two, then re-enters with a great riff and a dowshift in tempo, Billy does vocals again. Great guitar leads go on until the song ends. A fantastic opening track.
2. Call To Arms
This song starts off heavy and straightforward, Burdette comes in with vocals and things maintain a standard feel. The song then calms down a bit, only to pick back up with Davis contributing some yells. A great repeated chant ends the song.
A dark instrumental intro lasting about a minute starts off the song, then Davis comes in on vocals. Burdette and Davis shout in unison then it goes to just Burdette for a while. A great guitar lead comes in and sounds very powerful when accompanied by the huge vocals and ends the song.
4. Recurring Nighmare
This is an instrumental track that consists of one pattern being repeated over until it fades out. It may seem boring but it is short and to the point so it serves as a great break from an otherwise intense album.
5. Beginning Of The End
Palm muted intro turns into Burdette shouting over his guitar leads. Most of the song has Burdette playing something besides the regular roots. Cool arpeggios lead into a mellower section followed by what could be considered a solo but is really more of a long lead. Vocals come in again then another lead fill, repeat. Another mellow part with feedback and bass playing with the drums. The guitars come back in to end it quickly
6. The Lure
A very Tragedy style intro with some pounding chords, then a lead over top, then bass foreshadows the 'real' riff while the guitars ring out. This is a rare occasion because this song features Davis on main vocals throughout the song. Then something that is maybe a guitar solo comes in, again it could also be called just a lead, Tradgedy basically never has full on traditional solos. Burdette comes in on vocals and then the song ends.
7. Night Falls
Another intro along the lines of the one in The Lure, but the pace stays mid-tempo and Burdette enters on vocals. Another dark lead comes in and the listener is unsure where they will take the song next, if it will be a sudden upshift in tempo or if it will stay the same. A suprise comes in when something that seems more like an intro is played, followed by a short spoken word sample, then the song comes back at a mildly faster pace with leads and vocals.
8. The Day After
Very cool lead line to the intro on here, then drums build tension for the tempo to speed up. Davis starts screaming, then gives way to another great lead, the process repeats. Then another almost-solo enters. Burdette and Davis do a call-and-answer vocal tradeoff that is truly intense. Then Burdette shouts over his lead lines again and the song ends after an instrumental outro.
9. War Within Us
This is another instrumental track that is really a traditional Tragedy style intro to a song, just extended much longer. This may seem somewhat dull but it serves as a great cooling off period from one of the most flooring songs on the album, yet you can still rock out to the mid-paced riffing if you want.
This song then comes out and immediately kicks you in the teeth with Burdette's shattering vocals that are not only naturally powerful, but he sounds incredibly pissed off as well, making them all the more great. A lead break comes in, followed by bass and drums with a semi-chant going on. The song goes back to normal and then ends nicely.
11. To The Dogs
This is one of those songs where right from the clean arpeggios being strummed you know it's about to kill you. Then it does when the distorted riffs enter followed by vocals. Regular Tragedy stuff going on for a bit then another Burdette-Davis tradeoff. Then the drums play the intro beat followed by a tension building palm muted riff, then a chant. The closest thing to a regular guitar solo Tragedy has on this record comes in and then the song goes back to vocals then another tradeoff section. The drums play the intro beat once again with Davis yelling "Throw it all! Throw it all!" over top of it, then the clean arpeggios make another appearance. The drums stop and it is just vocals and clean guitar, then one final chord is strummed and it is over. Fantastic stuff.
12. No Words
A very intense intro followed by possibly the most bone shattering moment on the album with screams over leads, vocal tradeoffs, and unison shouts in a spastic array of raging music that is a classic moment. Then it's Burdette and the drums while he speaks. This leads into a great guitar part that builds tension into a cool palm muted section and the scream-then-lead thing Tragedy loves. This is repeated until an absolutely fantastic and epic sounding lead comes in, the lead changes, then goes back to how it was with a variation, then back to normal again while it fades out. This is an absolutely superb way to end an album and no one could have done it better than Tragedy.
13. Untitled 1
These are bonus unreleased tracks that were put on cds printed at later dates that i'm not sure of. This starts out with an instrumental intro, then Davis yelling over just the drums, then bass enters, then the song kicks in completely. The rest of the song is some pretty standard Tragedy stuff except for Davis on vocals the whole time and the chorus of "Follow or lead!", still a good song though.
14. Untitled 2
This is a very dark and spooky instrumental acoustic track with the same motif repeated throughout, it is kept somewhat short so it doesn't become boring and i think it is actually quite cool.
15. Untitled 3
A bass intro then Davis on vocals. After a little there is a suprise, that clean arpeggio sounds familiar because it is the one from Recurring Nightmares. I thought it was very interesting to see the band take that riff and put in a completely different context and make it work. Then Burdette comes back, which is nice because we haven't heard from him in a while. The whole song stays pretty mid-paced througout, towards the end there is a chant going on and then it ends after a short instrumental.
To recap, in my opinion this is one of the finest examples of modern hardcore to date because of the great vocal performances, solid musicianship, and the sky-high level of raw intensity flowing through the entire record. This is definitely a must hear for anyone who likes any kind of music that could be described as 'fast' , 'heavy', or 'loud', even though that does sound a bit cliche. Read the reccomendations for bands in the same vein as Tragedy.