Review Summary: Is Sick of it All still fresh in 2014? If it's even a concern, you're in the wrong place.
On Sick of it All’s debut album, KRS-One introduced the band and their musical style. On the track he talks about Sick of it All “spreading the hardcore reality in 89” – ending by telling the listener the band’s music is “fresh for 89”. Twenty-five years later and the band are still doing the same thing – but is it still fresh for 2014? There’s no doubt in 1989 Sick of it All’s sound was pretty damn fresh. It mixed hardcore with a heavier edge that was more known in metal circles, and it worked. Every subsequent album kind of played with the metal/hardcore ratios, but otherwise kept the same formula. That changed when the band signed to Century Media in 2006 and enlisted Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Mnemic, Dagoba) as their producer. Suddenly the crunch was much more pronounced and the intensity levels jumped 100% -- but it was still the same basic Sick of it All formula. So, is it still fresh for 2014?
If we take ‘fresh’ to mean ‘new’ or ‘different’ then the answer is a definitive ‘no’. If we use the 80s slang version of ‘fresh’ which means something is cool or awesome, then fuck yes it is. Sick of it All hit right from the start with the no-frills opener ‘Sound the Alarm.’ It’s a high-speed, visceral hardcore song full of gravel throated vocals, gang shouts and a hardcore punk riff. This song pretty much sets the standard for the entire album. Whereas their previous release kind of lightened up and included some ‘fun’ elements, The Last Act of Defiance
simply kicks ass with metal/hardcore riffs and high-speed tempos for the entire duration. This album is probably the closest they’ve come to recreating the no-frills straight-up metallic hardcore of their debut, and it is certainly a welcome sound. There’s no real point in selecting individual tracks for further description because they’re all aggressive, in-your-face, hardcore full of biting riffs, violent tempos and confrontational vocals.
It’s amazing to think that twenty-five years after their debut, Sick of it All could still play with such energy, aggression and conviction. It’s even more amazing they’ve managed to push those elements even further by trimming what little fat there was and filtering it through over two decades of experience. The Last Act of Defiance
isn’t here to dazzle you with musicianship and diversity, it’s here to bludgeon in a way that only good hardcore can.