Review Summary: Give more. Give everything. Give blood.It All Comes Down to This
was a strange beast. Bane were still recognisable from their earlier days, particularly in Aaron Bedard’s meaty yelps, but the record lacked the immediacy and punch people were used to. It was a difficult record, one obviously marked with the producer’s (Steve Austin) signature bleakness. There was greatness in there for those willing to spend a little time, and there were even a few bangers nestled amongst the more diffuse parts, but overall it failed to capitalise on what Bane were best at: fist punching hardcore for the thinking man. They’d sacrificed too much of the fist for the mind; where they would go from then on was anybody’s guess. Luckily for everyone, the band took the best possible route. With the intelligence and depth of It All Comes Down to This
still in evidence, Bane nutted back up and came out fighting. Maybe there are some people who don’t crack a huge smile when they first hear the record’s opening line, but I seriously doubt it.
Fuck yeah, I am still holding on…
is as focused as a needle of sunlight blazing from a magnifying glass, and for a hardcore record that totally avoids silly machismo in favour of genuinely engaging ideas, that’s saying something. You want songs about hardcore and the scene? Step right up. You come from a place where there is no scene and want something that you can identify with? Come on in. You want something poetic but are afraid your mates will think you’ve got a vagina? Well, I’ve run out of metaphors for getting the record, but you get my point. Lyrically, Bane get stuck into the grit
of their own lives: begging their van to start (Snakes Among Us), smashing the windshields in an Audi dealership (Sunflowers and Sunsets) and a bunch of other things you’ll be better off hearing yourself. Seamlessly mixed in amongst this are recurring bursts of deceptively simple, obviously heartfelt philosophy, which temper things like acts of apparently-childish vandalism with ideas you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in this, or indeed any genre. No fanciness, no pretension, just hardcore punk that makes you think.
And it’s all delivered against a backdrop of pacey, dynamic music which never goes near the borders of needless complexity, sounding at times almost like a bruisier Refused. If there is a chink in Bane's armour, it's probably that their desire to never sound stale can lead to the odd stunted riff here and there. Even in the more brooding parts, though, like the intro to ‘The Big Gun Down’, there is energy coiled beneath the surface, ready to bloom and break free. Brian McTernan’s delightful nuts-and-bolts production lets the record breathe when it needs to and roar when it wants to. Gone are the meandering passages that muddied It All Comes Down to This
, here replaced with vividly direct, every-second-counts songs that get in and out, all ten of ‘em, in less than twenty-six minutes. Embodying all that is admirable in hardcore, Give Blood
is the sound of a great band at the top of their game. Here’s hoping they reach the same heights again.