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.