4 out of 5
Recorded by: Jon Florencio, Racebannon (?)
Some fantastic emo-hardcore from Helen Of Troy, and spazz-hardcore from Racebannon, each group delivering a solid 2:1 ratio of awesome to pretty good tracks.
HoT kicks things off with three songs that appear to be taken from some of their other releases, but as the group’s output looks a little scattered, any opportunity to hear them is probably a good one, given how notable their work here is. While flipping between a couple vocal and musical styles – fast and thrashy and screamy; slow and glittery and contemplative – HoT thankfully (for my tastes) don’t lean too far into the emo part of their scene, allowing their tracks to remain pretty edgy, and always ready to tear out with some blasts of punky guitar and shredding vocals. The fast bass and guitar interplay tends to set the pace, even if things slow down at various points, and the lyrics are open enough to give the tracks some emotional heft. They also have a secret weapon in drummer Vincent Roseboom, who tears through every moment with jaw-dropping precision. Out of their three tracks, only middle track Abaddon just kinda rocks, whereas the other two rip; it’s fast-to-slow expansiveness is interesting, but it feels like they were going for something a bit more epic than they achieved.
After that, Indiana madmen Racebannon do their thing: wild, fervor-filled vocals and walls of musical noise. Opener Sewage Ain’t Sexy is fun, if sounding like “a typical Racebannon song,” with fast, wacky bits, and slow, stompy bits. Thereafter, the group’s entries shake things up, though: Yr Mom’s A Ninja is completely unstructured and thus delightful, with its bipolar blasts of energy, and closer Heavy and Awkward goes for longform destruction, hitting its riffs hard and letting things build in intensity and ominousness over its ten minutes.
For ‘bannon fans, I don’t believe a couple of these tracks (Sewage and Ninja) saw release elsewhere, and so the thing is worth listening to for Yr Mom’s A Ninja alone. But back that up with some impressive screamo from Helen of Troy, and it makes for more than just a passing listen – it’s an album’s worth of quality hardcore.