It's CD review time! After a little over a month's wait, it's finally time to take a look at the second & final album from inactive Sault Ontario hardcore rockers Detroit! Entitled "Brace For Impact", it was officially released on December 29th, 2009 at their CD release party at the old Coch's Corner, and it features the band's classic lineup, including singer Brenton "Diamond Brent Panther" Ellis, guitarist Curtis Faux, bassist Mark Rand, and drummer Mikey Hawdon. The album was recorded at Toronto's BWC Studios in 2009, and was produced by Greg Dawson and Detroit. Now out of print, you can probably score copies of the album by contacting band members directly, but some songs are streamable at their MySpace page, and I have since uploaded the whole album to YouTube, so click the above links to stream this album! Despite featuring nine songs, only three are longer than 2 minutes, so this review might be over quicker than you'd expect! (Updated on September 28th, 2012)
Also, the album features just 4 brand new songs, with 5 re-recordings from the band's original release, "Let The Hammers Fly". For the sake of fairness, I won't compare the new versions of those 5 tracks to the originals, I'll let each version stand for themselves, and critique the originals on their own merits when I review "Let The Hammers Fly". With that said, let's begin the review with track one, "Fortress"!
"Fortress" kicks off with a 7 hit drum opener from Mikey Hawdon, which you'll be quite used to by the end of this album, as it opens 6 of the 9 songs! Nice bassline to start the song too, Mark Rand definitely has talent in this area! Brenton Ellis handles lead vocals with a huge intensity that you don't see often very much, he screams with a lot of conviction and passion, and it fits the music nicely! However, his clean vocals didn't grab me as much, he's not bad, but something about it is off. This album is at it's best with screaming! Nice guitar from Curtis Faux too! Overall, this is a solid hardcore opener, but with a run time of 94 seconds, you're left wanting more. Luckily, Detroit deliver on their next song, "Blue Collar" which is of equal length, but it's definitely a superior song! Then guitar riffing is heavy as hell, and you will no doubt be moshing to this song live! The hardcore intensity continues for about half the song, before a bassline interlude preceding some cool gang vocals! I can imagine many fans yelling "I'll sleep when I'm dead" with the band at concerts! The ending is very catchy, and there's a lot to like! Great ending to a great song, it's one of my favourites!
Third is "Spiritual Autopsy", adapted from a poem by Dr. K. Synide. Nice violent lyrics here, befitting of another solid hardcore song! Relentless hardcore assault here, the guitar really stands out too! The middle's a bit heavy on clean vocals, and the lyrics do get slightly repetitive as it goes on, but aside from lyric issues, I'm a huge fan of this song! Great music throughout, if I moshed regularly, I'd be in the pit for this one! Nice drumwork from Mikey on this one too! This is followed by "Darth Vader" which, at a whopping 58 seconds, is the album's shortest song! But they pack possibly their heaviest and fastest material in this minute of music. You won't wanna mess with Darth Vader when this is over, I'll tell you that much! The solo bassline parts near the end do seem a touch out of place, and I'd have loved to have seen this be longer, but other than that, excellent song!
Fifth is "Pyre Driver", the album's longest song at 3 minutes & 30 seconds! It's also the first without the typical drum intro, instead fading in and gradually building to the heaviness. Not as fast as the last couple songs, but not softer, which is good! Brenton uses lots of clean vocals here in the verses, though the choruses are more aggressive! This is one of the few times the band uses a normal "verse chorus verse" structure, though I'm sure that's mostly thanks to the song's length, and the instrumentation is solid too! Honestly, while I do like this song, I think the band benefits from the shorter songs. Most of their songs are like 90 second powder kegs, they explode for a minute, and you go nuts! Here, it plays more like a standard punk song, the uniqueness isn't there compared to songs like "Blue Collar". I like it, but not in the same ways. Luckily, the hardcore fury I like the most is back on "St. Christopher", though it starts differently also, with a different drum opening and a spoken word intro from Brenton. The lyrics here don't suit the song that much to me, taking an almost religious praising tone, but you wouldn't catch that if you didn't have lyrics. Soundwise, the song's heavy as hell though, and it's generally pretty fast too! Curtis is very impressive on guitar here, and the drum backing for the spoken word parts is nicely placed! Definite improvement on "Pyre Driver"!
Seventh is "Bloodlet", one of the few songs exceeding two minutes. It suffers in similar areas to "Pyre Driver", in that the added length made the song less heavy, though I do like it more! It still has some unique qualities, I like the lyrics, and for the toned down screaming, Brenton's singing is still visibly original here! Nothing's blindingly different instrumentally, but as I've said, I do prefer the shorter heavier songs. But I do like "Bloodlet" on it's own terms! Eighth is "On Madness Reared", and we're back to short powder-kegs of hardcore awesomeness here! Gang vocals are in full force late in the song, and Curtis Faux lays down some good guitar work, especially early on! Another mosh-worthy song that any hardcore fan will like, I can't complain about this one either, it stands up with all their other under 2 minute songs! Finally, we have "Foreword To Death", the last of the longer songs. It opens with Mark playing a cool bassline, but quickly morphs into a more punk-like clean singing section....at first. Luckily there's heavier hardcore-like sections dotted throughout the song, though they could stand to be heavier and longer. This definitely will appeal to punk fans moreso than metalheads, but I like it too! It has a nice groove at parts, and the end has a great crowd rallying quality, finishing with a fade-out, a nice cap to this album!
Overall, "Brace For Impact" is a very good hardcore album that should appeal to metal and punk lovers alike! Detroit are at their best, as I've said, on the short songs where they fully employ their heavy fast hardcore sound. However, that could just be the metalhead in me talking, as the three longer songs definitely will appeal more to the punk fans of the area. That's just my observation. Hardcore is a genre the Sault doesn't get as much of as we did in the past, so any release of this type from locals is welcome, and this fills the gap nicely! Some might feel the need to compare Detroit to other bands featuring their members, like Lion Ride and The Labour Of, but there's no need to when the three bands are so different. Look at Detroit on their own merits, and you'll appreciate them all the more! As hardcore musicians, the four members of Detroit handle their roles very well! Mikey Hawdon's a natural drummer, Mark Rand shows his multiple skills on bass, Curtis Faux is solid throughout the album on guitar, and Brenton Ellis has loads of talent as a hardcore singer. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen some guitar solos, but that's minor. For what this is, it's a great job, if short (the album's not even 18 minutes long), and any hardcore fan should pick up "Brace For Impact" whenever they get a chance! And, just as a personal note, thanks to the band for including song lyrics and liner notes, even if handwritten! It's better than having none!
So there's this month's review! What's on the horizon for the spring? Well, I've decided that the March review will finally be of the latest Sykotyk Rampage album, "22"! It was released in November, but other new releases and an American album inclusion have pushed it back far enough. We need blue Chinese metal crash punk, and we'll get it! Expect that review around March 1st. April's review will be of a Sault Michigan band again, I need to get caught up on CDs from bands over there, and I have a good one lined up for April! As for May, barring the release of a new local album by then, I will take a return look at Garden of Bedlam's debut EP! I'm not happy with my original review of it, it doesn't flow or resemble my normal reviews, so I'd like to revisit it, if that's OK with you guys! As for the summer, you'll just have to wait and see!
That's all for now, be on the lookout for my next profiles of out of town bands with local members, a review of Wednesday's Battle of the Bands also featuring Sykotyk Rampage, and lots of news and updates as I hear them! Stay tuned!