Battalion Of Saints
Battalion Of Saints
Southern Lord Records
Release date: October 30, 2015
Punk rock has existed in many incarnations over the years, and none were more vital than the decade between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s. During this time punk was born from oddball rock groups, but began to form a cohesive sound, and quickly segregate into factions. From the proto-Rolling Stones sound of the New York Dolls to the full on attack of hardcore masters like Minor Threat, punk was threatening in all of its forms. Battalion Of Saints, through their first two albums, bridged the gap between the amped up rock of pop punk and the animalistic roar of hardcore. Formed in 1980 and releasing their debut in 1982, the band helped create the hardcore sound. Sole surviving member and vocalist George Anthony is back to lead the current version of the band in bringing back classic hardcore in all its fury and glory.
“But wait,” you say. “Only one original member? How can you call this Battalion Of Saints?” Anthony hasn’t just chosen blokes off the street to represent the Battalion Of Saints name. This incarnation of the band has some seriously hardcore royalty among its membership. Mike Vega’s regular gig is drummer for thrash masters Hirax, while bassist Matt Vicknair and guitarist Nate Javier have played in legendary hardcore band Angry Samoans. While we can quibble over membership all day, the proof is in the music the band presents on this release. “Darkness” opens this trio of songs with all the pummeling bombast one would expect from the masters of 80s hardcore. Anthony sings like he’s trying to out-shout a young Ian MacKaye, and he would certainly give the icon a run for his money. “Nightmare” rides the middle ground between punk and hardcore, with one foot firmly in each camp. It boasts a guitar line reminiscent of the Dead Kennedys, and driving drums. “Bomb” opens in a flurry of noise before breaking into a straightforward hardcore track including gang vocals and powerful bass drum work.
Battalion Of Saints is as good in 2015 as they were in 1984, and maybe better. Their self titled release is angry, energetic, and catchy. Maybe more importantly, the production is beyond what most hardcore albums were able to afford in the genre’s infancy, giving the listener all the angst and aggression of that classic era in a smooth package that’s still rough around the edges. The only negative comment I can make concerning this album is that it clocks in at under ten minutes. I’d love to hear more from this lineup. The tradeoff is that its selling on the cheap, with Bandcamp currently offering a download for $2.99. That being the case, when considering length you get what you pay for, but if we’re talking quality, this album delivers in spades.
Reviewed by Jim 1340