american me - heatThough action movies are usually geared toward the “SMASH THINGS!” side of the brain and really accomplish nothing remotely artistic and lasting, there are a few that execute smashing things, blowing things up, and generally kicking ass in a fashion that stimulates your head as well as satisfying your need to see some shit get blowed up. The Die Hard movies, the Terminator films (hell, even the third one), the Alien movies, Face/Off, Con Air, the first Kill Bill, and so forth all manage to make you feel less guilty about spending an hour and a half watching dudes fight each other while, once again, blowing things up in between. American Me’s Heat is the aural equivalent of the first Die Hard movie: the band perfectly executes your need to “rip shit up” while still exhibiting the ability to spew forth some well-crafted metallic hardcore. On the surface, American Me are just another breakdown-a-riffic bunch of hardcore kids with gauged ears and nautical star tattoos; if you let your guard down long enough, it’ll be a record that’s just as hard to stop listening to as any other this year.

This of course begs the age-old question: if the definition of a shitty hardcore band is one that relies on breakdowns, are they still shitty if all– really, ALL– those breakdowns are good? (Of course, by age old, I mean I’m the first person to attempt to overanalyze this, as the beauty of breakdowns is you don’t have to think about them.) American Me, though, stand up to this type of scrutiny, mostly by crafting seemingly simple music but packing a lot of subtle intricacy into it’s faux-knucklehead attack. This isn’t to say that American Me are a band that condescends to its kind of music; they’re simply much, much better than most of their peers. And in a genre as narrow as hardcore, goddamn, that’s needed.

Part of what puts American Me head and shoulders above your average Joe Throwdown is the fact that their music is so fucking violent. It’s one thing to pile on breakdown after breakdown and evoke a bunch of 90 pound kids fighting invisible ninjas on the open floor of the VFW, but it’s another to use that approach and actually seem destructive, to have to look down at your arms after Heat finishes up and hope not to see bruises or, worse, a bone poking out. The production is absolutely filthy, making the record dingy but not indecipherable. The vocals are both gruff but manage to come off as more frantic and livid as opposed to a shallow outlet for testosterone. The guitars are tuned way-the-fuck down for maximum heaviness, sure to get even your most hardened old school metalhead to at least nod his head a little. And Jesus Christ, I hate to bring it up again, but those breakdowns… the band clearly went through all their CDs, picked the best mosh parts, then tweaked them slightly to make them better. If “Say Nothing, Began Shooting”, the most absurdly kick-ass number on an album full of them, doesn’t get your blood moving at least a little, you’re a cold, terrible person, or are probably wearing corpsepaint as we speak. And Heat is held together masterfully by their drummer, who adds enough groove to help swing the slow parts out of a skinny white-guy groove as well as playing some of the most inventive blasts (even through there are only two songs with blast beats in them) one could ask for.

Heat closes with the sound of air raid sirens and an old school hardcore tribal tom drumbeat. If Hatebreed tried to pull this off, it’d be laughable. But American Me earn this sort of cheesiness, being that the band truly do make you think that you need to clear the room and hide under something, as some awful shit is about to go down. Much like John McClane grabbing on to a vent inside an elevator shaft instead of falling to his death is completely improbable but still kind of cool, American Me can close their record with wailing air raid sirens in a song called “Finish ‘Em All” and it manages to come off as impressive rather than labored. And that’s what American Me essentially is: while Bury Your Dead are (or used to be, really) a guilty pleasure (that, in interest of full disclosure, I like more than I should), nothing about liking American Me should make you feel guilty. None of this is too easy. It’s OK to think it kicks ass. And if, in fact, it’s not, then fine– I’ll go be a librarian instead.


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(4 out of 5 horns)

[American Me on MySpace]

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