Band: Strengthen What Remains
Label: On The Attack Records
Release Date: October 2010
Review by: Steve
Strengthen What Remains is a five-piece hardcore band out of Tampa, Florida, and are releasing their debut full-length album, Humanity, on On The Attack Records. The album had a few set back before release, which pushed back the release a few weeks. OTAR and SWR were unhappy with the mastering and mixing of the album and needed to do something about it before they pressed the CDs. Despite the disclaimers of “poor production” from OTAR I was surprised had how bad it WASN’T. I have definitely heard worse produced albums. Before this album, SWR self-released an EP titled Restoration that is free via their MySpace page. A few of those tracks made it on to Humanity (“Restoration” and “Emptiness”). A friend of mine familiar with SWR’s local scene told me how much these guys have improved over the years. He actually said that the improvement was an almost overnight change! One day they were an OK hardcore band and then the next day they were really good.
I was pleasantly surprised with Humanity for its many good qualities from music, vocals, and lyrics. First off, I was glad that there were no clean vocals on the album. SWR plays straight up “tough guy” hardcore, and it has a hardcore feel to and not the typical metalcore sound. Their music is in your face for the entire 10 tracks. They do not really break any new ground musically or stylistically but who cares if the music is good it’s good! SWR has some good riffs and aggressive drumming mixed in there. Second, Josh’s voice has a great old-school hardcore feel to it. Josh’s style kind of reminds me of Madball and Agnostic Front. Finally, the lyrical content is overtly Christian. SWR is definitely not afraid to tell the world where they put their faith.
I only had a few complaints about the album. First, a lot of the tracks start to sound the same after a while. Second, is the length of the album; it weighs in at around 21 minutes. I know that most hardcore tracks are by nature short (1-2 minutes) but many bands also put 14-16 tracks on an album as well. However, to me these are not too big of complaints compared to many albums out there.
My favorite tracks on Humanity are “Emptiness” and “Weakness.” These tracks are aggressive and have great lyrical content. In “Weakness,” Josh screams, “I will bow my head to none but the King of Kings. Prince of Peace is there still hope for me? I’m so burdened. I’m so weary. I’ve lived a filthy life full of compromise. I’ve cast all of my pearls into the mouth of swine. In sin I was conceived. By sin I was enticed.”
Overall: this is an extremely solid debut album. Despite some production setbacks, Strengthen What Remains proceed to pound your eardrums as if they were a heavy bag. Humanity is more in the vein of classic hardcore instead of the indistinguishable difference between a lot of modern hardcore and metalcore.
RIYL: Advent, Call to Preserve, Madball, Agnostic Front