4 out of 5
Label: Hydra Head
Produced by: George Dusault (engineer)
Not able to find much info on this group beyond the blurb in the insert that came with the 7″: “New Bedford’s sxe icons.” What is sxe in this context? I am definitely not cool enough – or from Massachusetts enough? – to know.
That said: I miss Hydra Head. I know they’re still operating in a limited fashion, and SIGE is happening, but while the latter years of the label (when active) started to be a bit too far-reaching for my tastes – they had some oddball off-brand hardcore stuff before, but that became more the norm – the early years were of that glorious mail order era when following labels really tapped you into a local scene. Roswell’s four tracks here may not have grabbed me as much as Converge or others would have, but the energy and emotion on display still resonate, 20+ years later. The band was still clearly young, though: there are moves here nibbing from what was going on in the hardcore scene at the time – a brew that would eventually moreso crystallize into the math of Botch or Cave In, but was more punky at first – and the lyric sheet (half cut-off) speaks to a typically youthy “no one understands me”ness, though they are written with more of a maturity than most bands would muster. So the results allow the first couple tracks to not have as much of an identity – the first one kind of amusingly prefigures stuff you’d start to hear on radio, once System of a Down blew up – though they’re still strong, and blow past the lo-fi production. The latter tracks have the group dialing in on a less showy hardcore punk sound, though, and this proves to be the right fit, providing solid proof for that “icons” tag in the description.
But even without that: this would’ve been a release to get excited about – give the band an album and some better production. It’s too bad that never came to fruition, at least as far as the internet tells me.