Gee, I remember close to 10 years ago when you could actually distinguish between hardcore bands and metal bands. I remember picking up a CD for the first time and saying to myself... "Yeah, this is hardcore" or "Yeah, this is metal" or even "Yeah, this is the best country music I have heard in a while". But these days, that line that used to be drawn so clearly is anything but. Thus, The Hoods and their second full length release on Chicago's Victory Records.
Hailing from Sacramento, California, The Hoods seem to be somewhat of a hybrid of later Agnostic Front (but pre-Epitaph, more Metal AF), later Earth Crisis and Hatebreed. Which for all intensive purposes, really does make for a good fucking record.
Right out of the gate, The Hoods come out blazing with the first track "John and Kitty" and never really stop from there. They take no prisoners and it shows with this release. They compliment their heavy style with massive breakdowns and truly some of the best "mosh" parts I have heard in quite a while.
I have to admit, some of the songs perplex me. They are all extremely heavy and while I would classify them as more of a metal band, they do show their hardcore roots with the best track on the album, "E Pugne Limpio" which is a typical tough-guy "I'll kick the shit out of you if you even sneeze in my general direction" song, but who the hell cares. It is straight up hardcore and it rocks! Now, no one else but my friends would know this about me, but I usually base my liking for an album on a specific track number. Why I do this? I have no clue. I think a friend told me once that the 7th track on EVERY CD is usually the best. Since then, I have lived by that code. If song #7 is no good, chances are the album is no good. Well, "E Pugne Limpio" is a great song and it is track #7, in fact.
Dealing with a lyrics on a mostly personal level, Guitarist Mike Hood (who also sings on several tracks and by the way writes the majority of the lyrics and music) comes across like a pissed off guy who's on the edge of a personal breakdown, but uses it to feed his medium. They conquer all of the old hardcore favorites such as Alcoholism, Addiction, and of course, being stabbed in the back by a friend. Regardless of their lyrical downfall (or their upside depending on how you look at it I suppose) the songs are well written, well thought out and they come across incredibly dark, depressing and more importantly, pissed off, which is a nice change of pace from the typical emo "My girlfriend left me so now I sit in the corner with my sweater on and cry a river of tears" love ballad or the new breed of super posi-core bands that preach U-N-I-T-Y and T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R-N-E-S-S that died years ago in the hardcore scene.
Probably one of the things that I enjoyed about this CD the most though was the artwork. The layout is done well, but what really stood out are the illustrations done by the legendary Sean Taggert, who has designed some of the best hardcore record covers EVER including Agnostic Fronts "Cause for Alarm" lp.
In the end, this really is a great recording. The production value is Sick (that means it's good!), the band is incredibly tight and despite the fact that you can't understand a word they are saying due to their deep, growling vocal-stylings, you can always understand when someone says the words "Mother Fucker" (which they say quite a bit) and in the end, isn't that all that really matters?
My Take on it... It's definitely not required listening, but if you are into the Hatebreed and later Earth Crisis style of hardcore, I would suggest you pick it up. Put on your kick-boxing shoes and your floor-punching gloves boys... it's time to dance.
Joseph f. Kuzemka is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.