Review Summary: The perfect mixture of anger, brutality, and creativity
Chris Colohan is a pretty well known figure in the underground hardcore community and is probably best known for his three stellar records released under the Cursed name. While I do love these records, I think that his genius was best exemplified on this little-known hardcore masterpiece released in 1999.
Kicking things off, the album begins with "***ing Invincible at One A.M", an aptly named song in which the relentless pace of this record is set nearly instantaneously. At one minute and thirty seconds long, this track is surprisingly quite dense, with some stellar drumming and riffing at the beginning, a heavy breakdown before the first verse, and back to the frantic and sludgy hardcore goodness that Colohan and co. pulls of so well.
I think what separates a truly great hardcore band from another run-of-the-mill band is the ability to slow things down and transition back into the speedy stuff on a dime without messing up the flow. Too often do I see hardcore bands try their hand at breakdowns, only to simply play slow, boring riffs with very low-effort drumming (looking at you Knocked Loose). Fortunately, tracks like "First Saved Message" and "God's Little Acre" provide stellar breakdowns and mid-paced sections in spades. On "First Saved Message", the track kicks off a very ominous intro, leading into a mid-placed sludgy riff backed by pretty standout drum fills, and eventually leading into the oppressively fast and cacophonous main verse. The track continues to wow me with another unique breakdown, totally different to the one at the beginning of the track, with another killer riff and a bloody filthy outro. "God's Little Acre" follows this same format; however, it oscillates between the two mediums of slowed down segments and panic-stricken outbursts at a much faster pace and does so without messing up the flow at all, making this track one of the best hardcore bangers I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
I could write in much greater detail about my love for the remainder of this album, but I will spare you my fanboy-ism. As I said in the beginning of this review, The Swarm had an innate ability to incorporate wildly varied song structures and creativity into very short run times, making their short tracks extremely dense and addictive to listen to. Because of this, this 19 minute-long album is one of the greatest pieces of hardcore music ever laid to wax.