Review by Nick Shore | Smutlife
More New York bands you say? Well, Brooklyn’s The Last Stand have officially arrived on the scene, playing a refreshingly traditional, no-frills brand of straight up hardcore. Comprised of members from Shutdown and Inhuman, the four piece have assembled themselves into a brand new unit, utilizing influences and experience from their prior projects to ink a handful of tracks laced with intoxicating aggressiveness. With over a decade long track record in the scene, The Last Stand are making waves with the release of their crushing self titled EP. Read more
Words by Nick Shore | Smutlife
While hordes of new bands sprout like dandelions from coast to coast in the U.S., it might be a little easier than we’d like to overlook the long standing staples of international hardcore. As bands like Cro-Mags, Sick of it All, Bane, and many others continue to carry the banner for true American hardcore, groups such as Rome, Italy’s Strength Approach hold their scene down overseas. With nearly 15 years under their belts, tours from Japan to the U.S., and a revitalized lineup, it’s no shocker “Stand Your Ground” packs a stone cold punch of aggressiveness.
Serving as a tantalizing precursor to their upcoming full length, “With or Without You,” their new EP delivers four tracks in a tick over nine minutes. Right off the bat, the old school influence drips from the opening song, “Waste of Life,” however the fresher material maintains a much more polished image. The smashing mid tempo intro is an ideal way to kick off the record, as the bass lines lurch forward with thick, crunchy production, accompanied by driving percussion.
Strength Approach pulls off tempo progressions seamlessly, ratcheting up the intensity continually until the song reaches a familiarly quick hardcore speed, and then dropping off like a freefall into breakdowns or bridges. Instead of unimaginative chug-a-chug breaks (thank god), they lean heavily on their old school aggressive roots, keeping the record moving at a roller coaster pace, chock full of pleasant ups and downs. “The Living Proof” is probably the best example, which should have people churning the pit like butter within the first five seconds of the opening riff.
Initially, this Italian outfit sounds like they’d fit like a glove into the current Reaper Records roster, although they’re not exactly Terror or Naysayer. Listeners should soak in an old school influence with contemporary, pissed, in your face attitude, as Strength Approach steamrolls their way through the EP. There’s also a familiar metallic edge to most of the record, which seems to be a common thread when hardcore elders produce new albums, although it’s up to the listener whether that’s a positive or not.
“Stand Your Ground” is available on limited 7” vinyl and CD from Demons Run Amok, Countdown Records, and the band. Keep your eyes peeled for future tours and their next full length record shortly.
Peep STRENGTH APPROACH here.
Words & Interview by Steve DiLodovico
Stress is all over the place. Hyper doesn’t even begin to describe him. Holding a conversation with him is like trying to catch a blur that is constantly in motion. His tattooed frame alternately sits, stands, jumps and moves in emphatic waves of uncontainable energy. That’s what the kid is: a vibrant ball of perpetual motion and energy. Get him talking about music and watch him go off. Stress is a man of many talents. He’s a producer (beyond the confines of a mere “beat-maker:” he produces music), a DJ, a photographer with a savagely keen eye (check out a recent piece in Urban Ink for Stress’s coverage of the most recent Black ‘N’ Blue Bowl for further proof) and much more. He is the owner of Pass & Stow in Bristol PA, a shop that specializes in urban gear, music, sneakers, art and just about anything else you can think of relating to music. He led the SubHoodz back in the day. He runs a label with long-time collaborator and SubHoodz cohort Harry “Hav” Robbins called Krush Unit, and has worked with wide array of diverse artists. Everything the kid has and has done has been because of music.
Stress is entrenched in music. His life revolves around it and is, many ways, defined by it. His devotion is evident: one look at the walls in his home-based ChopShop Studios tells the story of a life. In the way that stained glass windows in a church tell biblical stories, Stress’s walls describe his life in music. Artwork bearing names like the Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law adorn the hallowed walls of ChopShop and they give testament to Stress’s life like bible stories. And, sandwiched in between Philadelphia Eagles artifacts and framed album cover art rests Stress’s gold record, given to him for the remix work he did with Gym Class Heroes and Ghostface Killah.
Smutlife spent a day out at Stress’s Langhorne PA headquarters. We were joined by producer on the come-up (and younger brother of Stress) Sev-One and when we weren’t telling “back in the day” stories about the Hardcore and Hip Hop scenes of the ‘80s, we managed to spend some time talking about what it is that Stress does and why he’s been able to make great music on such a consistent basis. Read more
Words & Interview by Steve DiLodovico | Smutlife
Skam Dust. You know that kid; the one that runs with them legendary DMS All-Stars. He’s part of a cast of grimy MCs and Hardcore royalty like the Shotblockers, Madball, Danny Diablo AKA Lord Ezec. Skam Dust rose from the womb of Skarhead with a background forged in the hardest NYHC and a throat full of shrapnel. Skam only recognizes real: you can hear it in his verses and you can feel it in his voice. He is New York to the core: Corona, Queens: Spaghetti Park to be exact. It’s the kind of stomping ground that breeds Legends. Read more