Hardcore was once defined by THE EXPLOITED, GBH, MINOR THREAT, DISCHARGE, BAD BRAINS, BROKEN BONES, D.R.I., THE ADOLESCENTS, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG and THE SUBHUMANS along with many forgotten punker speed freaks largely operating through the Eighties. Like metal music, punk rock and hardcore faded through the American underground, albeit anytime the BAD BRAINS were up to something, everyone paid attention.
As hardcore and punk were resurrected alongside metal in the late nineties, the ethos was rewritten and not necessarily for the best. No intended dissing on THROWDOWN or TERROR whatsoever, but much of what's followed in their wake has morphed into a form of proto punk bearing a litany of self-empowerment, guilt-tripped straight edge unification and song structures that all but demand breakdown chops. The latter has infiltrated 'core music for far too long. 'Nuff said there.
New York City revivalists THE CASUALTIES have been doing things the right way for more than two decades. It's not mandated they play as relentlessly fast as they do, but because they execute speed with seamless proficiency, they're a heady breath of galvanized air if you spent your teen years bitching against Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and screaming "Oi! Oi! Oi!" in your bedroom. To spin a CASUALTIES album is as close to stepping back into the glory years of hardcore as it is to toss on THE SUBHUMANS' "From the Cradle to the Grave".
Jorge Herrera's raspy yelps are the American equivalent of Wattie from THE EXPLOITED and while that may put some folks off, the purity of Herrera's angst shines through his outraged bellowing. That's but one reason why THE CASUALTIES' eighth album, "Resistance", is the real deal. The merciless velocity is another. If you're not accustomed to constant swiftness on a punk record, you'll be exhausted by the end of "Resistance"'s forty minutes of abusive flogging.
The belligerent snare pounding and hollow floor tom pulverizing by Marc "Meggers" Eggers jacks "Resistance" up while the fluidly moving guitar and bass lines from Jake Kolatis and Rick Lopez are birthed in power and thrash metal as much as they are vintage punk. Loads of gang choruses keep this album's unwavering speed from growing tedious. THE CASUALTIES coax that previously-mentioned unification effect without threatening to knock your teeth out for consuming meat or drinking bourbon. They grumble about politics, religion, posers, outsider persecution and living life with an open mind, the same as customary punk ever did. A gutter gospel version of utopia is what THE CASUALTIES preach, and that consists nothing more than being true to yourself. What more can you ask?
"Behind Barbed Wire", "My Life, My Blood, Always Forever", "Modern Day Slaves", "Warriors of the Road", "South Eastern Asian Rebels", "Morality Police" and "Voice of the Outcast" crank the decibels and fly faster than the final laps of a NASCAR race. Even the agitated empathy engineering "Always Walk Alone" quickly zips into mosh mode after a deceiving slow intro. The title track rings like a traditional Oi jam and you don't have to be a part of the old guard to get it. In one of the few moments "Resistance" takes a quasi-breather, Jorge Herrera screams "Corazones Intoxicados" in Spanish along to a grinding, mid-tempo rock drive and it's just as infectious as the rest of the album, whether you speak the lingo or not.
The only real surprise behind the resurrected anthems of disorder "Resistance" brings to the table is they were commandeered on the console by metalcore king Zeuss. God bless the guy, though, because Zeuss didn't try to water down THE CASUALTIES. Instead, he plays to their strengths and encourages them to stay old school while rubbing in a few extra buffs of polish. "Resistance" is a proud and mutinous album of classic-minded hardcore with zero pisser breakdowns and 100% blazing continuity. THE CASUALTIES may profess there's no hope for their ideals in a world far more complex than which faced the original punk movement, but when the message comes delivered on the swing of a dusted-off sledgehammer, there's plenty of hope after all.