Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: Pick Your Side - Survival Prayer 7"

Pick Your Side 

Survival Prayer 7”

Rating: 8/10

Track Listing:
1. Controlled by Fear
2. Gnarly Times
3. I’ll be Happy When
4. Mentally Fucked
5. Digital Currency
6. Survival Prayer
7. World Split Open
8. Help Me Forget
9. Webs in the Sky
10. Hinkley Had a Vision (Crucifucks cover)

As the first substantial piece of music that legendary guitarist/frontman Jeff Beckman was put out since the demise of Haymaker, Pick Your Side’s Survival Prayer was inevitably going to be met with countless comparisons to the singer’s back catalog. Fortunately, this 10 song 7” will quickly silence any critics or naysayers who fear that Pick Your Side would end up simply being a poor man’s Haymaker.

Joined by Johnny Ibay from Fuck the Facts, Beckman and Co. have managed to capture much of the pissed-off, thrashy hardcore tone that made bands like Haymaker and Left for Dead so revered.  More importantly, the lyrical fury that Beckman has become widely known for remains intact on this release.   Songs like Controlled by Fear, I’ll be Happy When, and Digital Currency start off this EP with a sense of political ferocity that any Beckman fan will be pleased with, accompanied by buzz-saw guitar tones and a chaotic rhythm section.

Half-way through this flurry of distortion (10 songs in 11 minutes), songs like Survival Prayer and Help Me Forget show that Pick Your Side is able to mix break-neck speed with crushing riffs that further highlight Beckman’s anguished screams.  Finally, the EP ends with an unexpectedly impressive cover of the Crucifuck’s Hinkley Had a Vision, modernizing this atonal Reagan-era classic by adding Beckman’s hate-filled vocals and distortion-laden thrash riffs.

The only possible drawbacks to this 7” are the uniformity in song writing and production value.  While these factors are largely a matter of taste, the break-neck speed and one-dimensional distortion makes each song bleed into the next in an unintended seamlessness that sometimes makes it hard for even the most attentive listener to identify where one song ends and another begins.

Final Word:  Pick Your Side delivers the same furious thrashy hardcore that made Haymaker a hardcore mainstay throughout the early 2000’s.  While dynamics and diversity are lacking, Survival Prayer provides aggressive, distorted, hardcore without ever missing a beat.  As this 7” is a precursor to an LP set to be released in April, it provides a glimpse into future where political, stripped-down and sped-up hardcore is still relevant and appreciated.

Favourite Track: I’ll be Happy When, Hinkley Had a Vision

Review Date: March 21, 2012

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