[The seven-inch record is a cornerstone for hardcore music. Unlike metal that has diminished vinyl while perversely fetishizing it, hardcore continues to depend on the format as an essential platform for disseminating music. Characteristically shorter song lengths make it possible for a band in this scene to make a statement over the course of multiple tracks and provide it in a way that is affordable. The purpose of this column is to identify and offer short critiques of some new and recent releases in the 7″ format.]

Last year, Defeater dropped an unexpectedly obtuse bit of hardcore into our laps with Lost Ground, a literally historic EP given its World War II subject matter. The titular A-side of the Dear Father (Bridge Nine) 7″ matches the tenor of that material though the track leans further towards the melodic, hinting at what’s to come from the upcoming LP. On the flipside, however, is “I Don’t Mind”, a passable Jack Johnson-esque acoustic number better served for a side-project.

What do they put in the water in San Antonio that makes their hardcore bands sound like NYHC bands? Crucified (6131), the debut 7″ from Hardside, shows more reverence towards Leeway than Madball–which is Bitter End’s territory anyway. What really sets this band apart is actual singing chops (“Nothing Left”, “Two Faced”). Yet this doesn’t make the record any less crushing. On the title track, which is not a cover of the Agnostic Front cover of the Iron Cross cut, the formula is untouchable.

Richmond, VA’s No Values may not have done much for me in concert, yet United We Die (Reaper) produced a far more favorable impression. “Pipe Burst” detonates with a frustration whose legacy goes back at least to Ian Mackaye in the Minor Threat days, while “Peace And Quiet” veers from an initial breakneck tempo into a seething, slower second half. The title track tries that method in reverse, succeeding rather well. To second impressions!

Twin Cities hardcore has changed significantly since the days of Husker Du, as the potent I’ve Lost All Faith In Myself (Blood and Ink) 7″ from Venia makes so clear. Minneapolis Metalcore is what’s on order here, and unlike some of Venia’s peers in the scene, this has more in common musically with Merauder than Underoath. Christian themes are present lyrically, yet manifestly moshable cuts (“Crux”, “Mouth Of A Liar”) make this enjoyable for all denominations. Former Strongarm vocalist Jason Berggren joins in the chant on “The Call”, the record’s highlight. God save the breakdown.


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