Friday, 13 July 2012

Review: To the Lions - Baptism of Fire

To the Lions
Baptism of Fire
Goodfellow Records

I first heard about To the Lions through the Goodfellow Records website.  I used to check it obsessively, believing (rightfully) that whatever that label put out was worth listening to.  While I loved most of what I heard, To the Lions stuck out more than anything else (except for Cursed).  Unfortunately, with Goodfellow Records and To the Lions now both defunct, all that can be done is a review of this underrated record.

To the Lions was a short-lived hardcore band based out of Hamilton, Ontario.  Despite only being around for a short time, their full length album Baptism of Fire definitely left a permanent mark.  Very much in the straightforward/insanely angry vein of dominated the earlier part of the decade, this album (if not so well executed) would’ve seemed out of place when it was released in 2007.  Fortunately, the band’s members (formerly of SeventyEightDays, Grade, and Chokehold [I think]), know exactly what they are doing when it comes to writing pissed off 90’s hardcore. 

Tracks like Born to Die, Nightmare Begins, and The Foresaken are about as nihilistic and violent as they come, and really lay the track work for an album that avoids becoming repetitive or boring, while still never straying from the musical path that the band became known for.  I can’t understand how this album didn’t earn a place in the ‘essential hardcore albums to own’ lists that are everywhere on the net, but it should have.  Every single song is catchy, well put together, aggressive, and stand the test of time.  I may be biased because this was the type of hardcore that I grew up listening to and playing, but even stepping outside of that dynamic, there really isn’t a bad thing that I can say about this album.

My only issue with this album is as follows:  They have a track called Nightmare Begins, which starts off with a great build up/intro, culminating with a furious scream of “And so it begins!”....and this isn’t the first track on the album!  Now, I’m not one for complaining about how an album is put together, but when a song with this name, structure, and lyrical introduction is track 5 I think a re-ordering should be considered.

So if you like well-written, well-structured 90’s-influenced hardcore then I highly suggest you find a copy of Baptism of Fire and give it more than a few listens.

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