Just when you think hardcore has become harmless and lyrically irrelevant, Philadelphia's PASSION kicks you square in the teeth with an album like "The Fierce Urgency of Now". With a decidedly metallic bite and a firm grasp of arrangement variety, "The Fierce Urgency of Now" is heavy in the way that an INTEGRITY album is heavy. That's right, the intent is to inflict great bodily harm and leave your brain bruised not only from the beating, but also from the ferociousness of the message delivered.
It takes about 10 seconds of album-opener "One Way Ticket" to realize that the boys mean business, and the trend continues right on through to the end. Much like many of the tracks on the album, "One Way Ticket" packs one hell of a punch, offers effective changeups, and sports a good hook to boot. Dissonant chords are sprinkled throughout, but not simply for the purposes of demonstrating how noisy one can be. Instead, songs like "Statistics Show that We Do Not Care", "Longer than Expected", and an absolute killer called "Get it in the Van" mix the chord abrasions in nicely with the full-bodied, straight ahead riffs and rhythmic stomp. Textured six-string work and brief pace changes amidst the vicious pummel add character without causing momentum to be lost. Though "The Natural" boasts one of the more involved arrangements, we're talking in the relative terms of a hardcore record. Even at almost six minutes, the punishment is unrelenting; whether it is a slight pullback in the tempo here or a monstrous breakdown there, the intensity never wanes. And man oh man, the speed killing is absolutely crushing, as songs like "Dig in Deep" or "In Ourselves We Trust" demonstrate.
Singing about real life issues throughout the album, vocalist Kenny Harris has a point to get across and he does so with conviction at every turn. One line from "Get in the Van" is particularly poignant: "A majority of you have already blocked out this incessant noise / you are the same people that go through life not listening, unless it's to the sound of your own voice". OK, it's not a watershed album, but "The Fierce Urgency of Now" hits with the kind of metallic hardcore viciousness that the hardcore pretenders will never understand.