Album Review :
Carrying the Fire - Passed On

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Band: Carrying the Fire
Title: Passed On
Label: Harvcore Records
Release Date: July 9, 2011
Reviewer: David Marshall

Tracklisting:

  1. The Big Question
  2. Repentance
  3. We, Too, Have Come to Rock for the Light
  4. Bleeding Hearts and Bloody Hands
  5. Free at Last
  6. No Matter What

No matter what genre of music you listen to, there’s always a message behind the bands you listen to. However, when you look at hardcore, I’ve generally seen more bands focus on change and how to improve this world for ourselves and others. There are definitely bands that don’t fall into those categories, obviously, but when I think of two staples in the hardcore scene (Minor Threat and No Innocent Victim), they both stood for what they believed in and didn’t falter in a world that tries to sell alternative lifestyles and compromise. With Passed On, Carrying the Fire makes their anthem, and there is no room for misinterpretation. This band is here to see change, and I can’t say I disagree with them.

If you didn’t know already, this is the new project of ex-members of xLOOKING FORWARDx, so if you’re familiar with that band, these songs will definitely be up your alley. If not, Carrying the Fire is definitely a hardcore-punk band, and I emphasize the punk because this isn’t hardcore for people who think the Devil Wears Prada fits that categorization. I’m talking about Verse, Sick of it All, Have Heart, etc. There are no “br00tal breakdowns” nor any blast-beats. What we have with this EP is raw, emotion-filled, and honest hardcore at its finest.

Right off the bat, “the Big Question” hits you with a riff that sounds like it could have been written by Figure Four years ago, but when Justin comes in with his vocals, you know it’s a different breed of animal. Whether it be xLFx or Carrying the Fire, Justin’s writings have always been centered around God, loving others, straight-edge, or various other social topics, and because of his honesty, the songs have always come off organic and heartfelt. This song is no different. However, I feel the lyrics to “the Big Question” stem from the fact they’ve probably had people tell them to leave Jesus out of hardcore, as is common with hardcore and faith. His plea is evident with the lines, “I am going to pour out my heart, and love it or hate it I can take it. You can tear me apart, I don’t care if I sound stupid; who cares if you think I’m nuts, when I’ve got this mic in my hand I’m going to spill my guts!”

The rest of the songs deal with various topics: self-realization (“Repentance”), hypocrisy in the hardcore scene (“We, Too…”), action over talk (“Bleeding Hearts and Bloody Hands”), freedom from hate (“Free at Last”), and loving people unconditionally (“No Matter What”). In a world where we get by with hatred and judgmental biases, this is definitely a counter-cultural message, one that lines up with what Jesus actually preached rather than other bands I’ve encountered over the years. You will not be hearing/reading any ear-tickling messages, but if anything, these songs will most likely convict you of changes we all need to go through, whether we believe in Christ or not.

However, with that being said, you can only go so far with lyrics, and I can’t ignore the instrumentation behind it all. I’m a pretty big fan of hardcore bands, but the genre is notorious for repetitive riffs and songs that tend to blend into each other. Rest assured, Passed On does not fall victim to this snare, All of the riffs follow a traditional hardcore sound, but listening to the song structure, I’m not confusing them for any other bands. They have effectively crafted their own sound in that they have equally blended heaviness and melodies, leaving you with some incredibly stellar songs. Dan (drums) did a great job complimenting said guitar parts, as every fill is tastefully placed and doesn’t take away or drag down the feel of the songs. My only complaint with the drums honestly come from the beginning few seconds of the opening track, as the kick patterns seemed a little sporadic, but I feel that may be my own personal opinion.

Overall: As I finish this review, I have listened to Passed On a good ten, or eleven, times in a row, and while that sounds like a feat, it is due to the fact Passed On only clocks in at 9.8 minutes. While I have no complaint with this fact, as I feel like it only compliments their music more (less filler, more killer), I know some people will find it hard to buy an album that can be listened to before you can get through a line at Walmart. If you’re willing to overlook this minor setback, you will find one of the more solid hardcore albums that has come out in recent history. I am blessed to have this as one of my first reviews coming back, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this album to any fans of the hardcore genre. It is solid from beginning to end, and will not leave you disappointed.

RIYL: Comeback Kid, xLOOKING FORWARDx, Stretch Armstrong, Figure Four, Venia.

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