Review Summary: A frustrating but ultimately enjoyable "full length."
Every genre of music has it’s stereotypes, but for some these are truer than for others. Hardcore, for instance is often cited as valuing speed before strategy, brutality before beauty and volume before vigilance, rulings which at first glance portray a style lacking in intelligence and direction. But while there are some notable exceptions, many hardcore bands certainly fit this stereotype, and on first glance, Californian outfit Trash Talk would appear to be one of them.
Since their formation in 2005, this quartet have blurted out material with almost alarming regularity. Up until now, they have released four EP’s, two compilations and a live album, and on top of all that, Eyes & Nines is their third full length outing, all of this in a mere five years. Producing output at such a prolific rate does, of course, raise various questions and doubts, with whether the band has any sense of quality control immediately springing to mind. On this point, this third record gives off mixed signals.
The first thing that should be noted here is that the label “full-length” is rather misleading. The band’s 2006 debut, Walking Disease
had a rather paltry running time, and this record itself only goes on for seventeen minutes. In truth, this has more characteristics of an EP than an album, and indeed there are many EP’s with far longer running times than your average Trash Talk album. It would certainly be reasonable to assume that this shows the band are more concerned with releasing material regularly than producing something of any real definitive quality.
But what of the music on offer" Unfortunately, this also seems at first to lack the ambition needed to make the band anything to write home about. There is very little – if anything – in the way of originality or new ideas that can push the genre forward from its current state of saturation – something that is true for all too many hardcore bands. The running times for some of the songs also give off negative signals, as many are simply too short to get any kind of momentum going before they reach their conclusion. I Do
, for instance, clocks in at a feeble thirty-nine seconds, and would probably be classed as an interlude if the material around it suffered from the same problems.
However, these initial impressions don’t give the full picture, as there are some aspects of Eyes & Nines
that suggest the band aren’t just content with throwing out anything - no matter how messy. While individual tracks, as mentioned, often lack momentum because of their length, collectively they tend to be far more effective. The first three tracks, for instance, prove a relentless opening, while the final six race through with ferocious efficiency, being totally devoid of excess.
The one track not covered by this spectrum is Hash Wednesday
, which remarkably clocks in at four and a half minutes(!). This song is notable not just for it’s uncharacteristic extended length, but for the far slower and more considered approach it takes, musically. This doom influenced number may not be the best on the record, but it does, at least, show that they are striding for a little variety in their music, something that many similar bands don’t even attempt. On a longer record, numbers like this can be vital to an accomplished, well rounded set, but because of this records brevity, its effectiveness is lost somewhat.
Observing the record as one big (or not so big) slab of noise is, however, overlooking the fact that there are some very good individual tracks on offer. Chief among these is Explode
, a furious blast of hardcore energy which unlike other tracks stays long enough to leave an impression but not so long that it outstays its welcome. Similar traits are possessed by On A Fix
and the closing title track, and while not quite as good it’s moments like these that lift the record well clear of mediocrity and maintain the bands fearsome live reputation.
Ultimately, Eyes & Nines
is a frustrating record to listen to and reflect upon. It’s definitely a violent and engaging listen that packs a punch, but the short running time means that little long term damage is caused. Sure, the final six tracks hit you with their anger and relentlessness, but the fact that they only last a combined total of seven minutes cushions the impact somewhat. As such, this record is better viewed as an EP rather than an album. Although the material on offer is of a good standard, this is unfortunate as it limits what can be achieved. There is nothing here that suggests the band aren’t capable of stepping out of their comfort zone and making an excellent hardcore album in the future – but it’s up to them to decide whether to take that step. It’s evident though that with a little more ambition and a little more time in its construction, Trash Talk are capable of making records far superior to this one.
Eyes & Nines