Review Summary: An album for those who've never been much good at saying goodbye.
I would be doing Bane a disservice if I were to begin with some hackneyed tripe about memories and how they can bridge the chasm between the past and future. For almost 20 years, the Worcester-based quintet (and its revolving-door rhythm section) have been distinctively no-nonsense, going about their business with honesty, integrity and a tireless, blue-collar work ethic. Don't Wait Up
- the band's fourth and allegedly final record - is appropriately nostalgic without being cloying.
The album roars from the onset with the jab/cross combo "Non-Negotiable" and "All the Way Through", immediately asserting that the band have no semblance of studio rust. "Non-Negotiable"'s bruising introduction is emphatically Bane: the pummeling toms and snare, bellicose guitar riff, raucous gang vocals, and Aaron Bedard's visceral shouts are all unabashedly on display. "The only thing I can't buy more of is time", he howls, before adding later, "But I will fill what is left of my days with the things I love the most." Themes like perseverance and endurance are a consistent message throughout Don't Wait Up
, and knowing during recording that this would be their proverbial swan song clearly reined in Bedard's writing. As a whole, Bane seem to express concern about overstaying their welcome or sounding like a shell of their Give Blood
days, and while the idea of bidding farewell to something you love - be it for personal or professional reasons or both - for a final time is somber, the band are steadfast in their intensity and never sound timeworn or jaded.
The esprit de corps
and camaraderie in the hardcore community is well-renowned (to be fair, Ontario isn't exactly a hotbed for hardcore, so it's not like I'm writing from experience here), and as much as Don't Wait Up
is a sendoff for fans, it's also a thank-you to the friends Bane have made since the mid-'90s (as Bedard describes in "Hard to Find", friends make "the best defense", and that "The key is finding the ones worth fighting for"). One of Don't Wait Up
's most engaging songs is the five-minute "Calling Hours", the purported brainchild of guitarist Zach Jordan. Featuring guest vocals from Pat Flynn (Have Heart), Walter Delgado (Rotting Out), David Wood (Down to Nothing, Terror), and Reba Meyers (Code Orange Kids), "Calling Hours" is sublime in its arrangement. While it's common for bands to guest on one another's albums, it's territory that Bane had yet to tackle, and the song succeeds on all fronts. Specifically, the way the vocalists weave in and out of their contributions is riveting, and once again, the motif of persistence and dedication is unwavering throughout ("Forget the who, the what, the when, the where, the why / Deep down inside, I know I tried / Did you love something with all of your might""). Between the crescendos, the gang vocals ("What's done is done / The night takes everyone") and Meyers' cathartic stanza backed by thundering guitars and percussion in the climax, "Calling Hours" sports an indefinite number of highlights as one of Don't Wait Up
's most compelling listens.
There are occasions where Bedard's darker past rears its head ("Wrong Planet" alludes to abuse he endured and witnessed in childhood and the guilt that resulted), but the instrumentation does well in mirroring that comfortless mood. "Post Hoc", "Park St.", and "Lost at Sea" are all certifiably Bane material, but are neither as immediate nor as arresting as "Calling Hours" or album closer "Final Backward Glance", which is as flawless a conclusion as they could write. The last two-and-a-half minutes are almost conversational in nature, with Bedard expressing that he's "never been much good at saying goodbye" underneath the ever-escalating and conclusive gang vocal.
With a final tour in the twilight of their careers, Don't Wait Up
personifies everything that Bane stood for and made them such an endearing hardcore act. While it's with a heavy heart that we begin writing the epilogue, fans can take solace knowing that Bane's legacy - even with the long gaps between releases - will be defined by hard work, allegiance, honor, and devotion to themselves and their hardcore comrades. Perhaps knowing that this would be their final record is what makes Don't Wait Up
such an inspiring, accessible record. Aurally consistent, hauntingly introspective, and beautifully self-reflective in its just-over-a-half-hour duration, Don't Wait Up
may not rewrite the hardcore how-to book, but it does showcase how to bow out gracefully, with nearly 20 years' worth of respect earned intact.
"Final Backward Glance"
"Hard to Find"