Sound — 7
With so many heavy-hitting Hardcore bands cluttering the market with new albums every other week, quality is bound to be sacrificed. Surely, there are a crop of current bands that are doing some truly special things (Blacklisted, Ceremony, Have Heart), the scene is falling into one of it's ruts again. Of course, this is not exclusive to the Hardcore scene, but with so much youthful energy going around, you would think more bands would grab your attention. Things are getting to stale. Now, I don't necessarily mean the bands should start incorporating Jazz or Reggae rhythm breaks into their repertoire or anything that out of left field to get us excited. Every now and then, good old-fashioned aggression should do the job. Enter California's Killing The Dream. Their battery-acid soaked version of the genre is short on technicality but full of fury and lyrical bite. The California unit's style is rooted in mid-'90s Hardcore all the way down to it's half-timed breakdowns but they lace everything together with the vitality of a young, hungry band. Every member of KTD does their part, showcasing, not only their musical prowess, but more importantly, their understanding of when to drive forward in a frenzy and when to pull back. This is a four-headed monster focused on a goal and these 12 tracks are a testament to that.
Lyrics — 8
In front of any great Hardcore band is a vocalist like Elijah Horner. The man is possessed. Every line in every song is pushed forward with the complete and utter conviction the music's combative nature demands. He screams and pleads through the title track like he's being thrown into a shallow grave while his approach on Holding the Claws is nothing short of savage. The piercing tone of his vocal approach must be a menace to his vocal cords but the material is all the better for it! His harshest delivery comes on the Punk-tinged, Thirty Four Seconds. Here he drops verbal flamethrowers like, I should have f--king known/you are who you f--k, with assassin-like precision. Undoubtedly, Horner's vocals are packed with enough vitriol to fill a hundred Hardcore albums. His lyrics are mostly confessional and definitely unflinching in their directness. He sounds defeated on Everything But Everything when he admits, these days, my dreams are all that's real. With sentiments that dreary, a couple of the other songs on Fractures really will take you by surprise. The hopeful Resolution is filled with the kind of self-analyzing yet positive minded lyrics that made bands like Dag Nasty so uplifting so many years ago. Meanwhile, 13 Steps reads like a tribute letter to a long-lost friend. Horner proves throughout the album's duration he's a front man to keep your eye on.
Overall Impression — 7
At just under 25 minutes, Fractures doesn't overstay it's welcome. It's actually the perfect length for a record this punishing. Although the album starts off with the hymn-like intro, (re)Acquiantance, things take a full-turn on the following track, Part II (Motel Art) and it never really lets up from there. Patrick Guild and DJ Rogers guitar style comes from the Unbroken and Converge school of noisy yet controlled chaos. Nothing too fancy here folks; just some dissonant octave layering (Holding the Claws) here and slow-burning build-ups (Resolution) there. Former Jawbox and Burning Airlines mastermind, J. Robbins and Ross Swanes (ex-Stay Gold guitarist) check in with a winning production performance. They never fuss up the arrangements with too much knob-twisting but they still lend the proceedings some atmospheric touches when needed. Their understanding of dynamics is clear with the way they handle the chorus of guitar feedback on Hang the Jury. it's subtle touches like that where Robbins and Swanes really show off their studio and songwriting smarts. But let's not lose sight of what ultimately makes Killing The Dream rain victorious here. Fractures is the sound of band really comfortable in their own skin; no matter how damaged it may be.