You could say I've got an advantage in reviewing this collection of rare and previously unreleased tracks. Since I've not heard any other albums by California's UPHILL BATTLE, one could say my opinion going in is relatively untainted. That's not to say I've not read a few reviews of "Wreck of Nerves" around the time of its release, which if I recall correctly were rather mixed from a critical standpoint. So on we go.
As for first impressions, the band's style rides the edge of noisecore, could at times be considered a kind of progressive hardcore, and is fairly unpredictable. Mostly challenging, always noisy, and with a hint of melody from time to time, the passion for the craft is undeniable and the aggressiveness needle remains firmly in the red. Semi-falsetto screams (more like a dissonant half-yodel) work just fine one moment and border on irritating the next, yet somehow the songs wouldn't sound right without the style employed. "Writing in the Dark" (there are two just-shy-of-identical versions of this one and "Crawl Space") and "Means to an End" are good examples of UPHILL BATTLE's mix of hardcore-based dementia and CONVERGE-like scathe-core. The former song incorporates doomy riffs and ominous tones with thrashing sections and lots of tempo shifting. The latter works well as a tune that's abrasive and pummeling, yet still accessible. "Faded Red" is not quite as frantic, but no less assaulting. "Ripped Off Face" is one of the more ferocious tracks, and is also one that includes riveting (and spastic) page changes, as well as some cool bass lines.
So sure, I basically like what I hear, though nothing here caused seizures or aneurysms, which is kind of the point with this style blend. In other words, I didn't find myself running back to hit "repeat". Would I buy the album? Maybe. As for everyone else, should you purchase "Blurred (1999 – 2004)" or "Wreck of Nerves". How the hell would I know? I've not heard "Wreck of Nerves". What I do know is that my interest has been piqued enough to want to find out more about UPHILL BATTLE.