Review Summary: Keeping the torch lit.
Regional Justice Center - Crime and Punishment
Fresh outta quarantine, Seattle-based powerviolence collective Regional Justice Center offer their sophomore album Crime And Punishment in the form of ten haymakers straight to the listeners eardrum. At just over thirteen minutes in length, the sample on the opening track “Taught to Steal” is about the only respite given before descending into violent mayhem. From it’s rolling snare intro, vocalist/drummer/primary-songwriter Ian Shelton belts out general sermons of social inequities, powered by a blisteringly well-polished band throughout the remainder of the album. Sounding like a less-manic JR Hayes of Pig Destroyer fame, Shelton’s dual duties as drummer and vocalist isn’t necessarily unique to powerviolence (Iron Lung have been doing that since the early aughts) but it does present an interesting dynamic that can get lost in the ferocity of the record. Tracks like “Dust Off”, “Absence”, “Sickness on Display” and “Solvent” bring to mind flashes of Mind Eraser, with staccato machine gun-esque blast beats interspersed between crushing sludge riffs. Separated between these types of frenzied tracks are pit anthems in “Inhuman Joy”, “Concrete” and “Violent Crime”, with “Inhuman Joy” in particular showcasing Shelton’s impressive vocal talent. The bridge/breakdown to “Concrete” is the front-runner for slam dance anthem of the year.
Tightly packaged and presented with remarkably clean production from Taylor Young (ex-Nails), and mastered by Brad Boatright of Audiosiege, Crime And Punishment doesn’t necessarily trailblaze in an already well-tread genre so much as it continues to show life still exists in it. Outside of the deepest depths of Painkiller or Deep Six Records, this style of powerviolence is not something you hear often. And it’s fiery hot pace doesn’t do it any favors, as it’s short album length will most likely serve as an appetizer instead of a full-course. However, standout tracks like “Dust Off”, “Inhuman Joy” and “Concrete” keeps the album fresh. Content more on paying homage to bands of a bygone era, Regional Justice Center keep the torch of powerviolence lit for a generation that may have otherwise skipped this style of music.