Bane formed in Worcester, Massachusetts back in the October of 1995 (dates vary) as a side project between Aaron Dalbec and members of the brilliant hardcore act Converge. The group believed that the Boston hardcore scene had taken a turn for the worst - but still loved it - so the group resolved to change all that. They describe themselves as 'olderish, foolish romantics' who dreamt of the past peak of the hardcore scene. The scene itself has begun to attract commercial interest and mainstream attention. Expectedly, insincere hardcore duplicate begun to saturate the scene and the integrity and creative value of the music they loved so dearly had been besmirched.
Aaron Dalbec had just experienced the (temporary) break up of Converge - which he was the second guitarist for. He moved away from the grind/jazz infusion and away from the metallic, experimental style of Converge for a more retrogressive, raw hardcore style. After jamming and trading tapes in the pre-internet hardcore underground, Bane released their first full length in 1999 titled It All Comes Down To This - which made significant waves as an unconventional record. By 2000, Bane had toured across the US four times, as well as a six week tour of Europe. They also released their second LP - Give Blood - which received widespread praise. Since then Bane have toured with the likes of Agnostic Front, Dashboard Confessional, Hatebreed and Shadows Fall.
The album jumps right into the furious "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda", which shows Bane can still knock you flat with bursts of speed and aggression - though on average the remainder of the album is at a slightly slower pace than previous releases.
It becomes clear where the albums theme lies within the first minute; "I was holding out for something greater / Than broken slogans, empty sing-alongs" - The Note is Dalbecs brutally honest and precise criticism of today's popularized, "trendy" hardcore scene. And its something that has hurt him deeply, and personally as the next track "Pot Committed" demonstrates.
"I have come too far to buckle now, can't lay this one down to the likes of you and I don't say that with some bulls*** sense of pride … I don't give a f*** if my words have grown old … I don't give a f*** how thin this ice has become / I'm stomping on it anyway."
Powerful words born of someone so committed to the hardcore ideal - just like so many metalheads have seen their ideals pissed upon by the nu-metal scene. Dalbec doesn't stop and tone it down for an instant in the remainder of the album. In "Hoods Up" he spits out his venomous rage in a cynical fashion;
"Tell me this is still for the kids, by the kids, about the f***ing kids / Tell me that we have not become just as cheap as everyone else / Tell me that loud guitars backed by loud ideals is still what we're all about / Tell me that beauty is more than who you are on the outside / Tell me that a word like 'unity' is not just ink spilled on the page."
I'm sorry I've put in so many lyrics, but really that is what makes this album. Words so powerful, so true that I just can't help but to reproduce them here. Musically Bane are tight, and aren't forced to resort to the same old patterns and figures of some of the more uninventive hardcore. To be truthful, when I first heard this album I thought Dalbec's vocals were a bit weak - and admittedly, he isn't the worlds strongest hardcore vocalist - but that isn't what this is about. It's about his ideals, it's about his vision, his life and passion put to paper - and that comes through on the album. He may be a limited vocalist, but he puts everything he can into it. His song writing has clearly outgrown and outshone his singing talent.
"End with an Elpsis" starts off somewhat differently - a slow drum beat with a metallic guitar riff that fades in. Dalbec pours over the shortcomings of hardcore and the shortcomings of his own endeavors; "Trying to justify these compromises that have piled up and dulled my blade / Maybe we stayed too long didn't say enough, swing hard enough / I'll never love anything else the way that I loved this."
This track is definitely a change of pace, a slow brooding song full of pain: "It's getting harder and harder / To give too much of my body and soul to a mess overrun by morons and thugs … We stand bound and gagged as they pee on our rug / The end result of not a single motherf***er willing to take the hard road."
Dalbec feels the kids in today's scene have given up on the ideals hardcore was founded on - they've taken the easy road, they've been sucked in to the commercial, bastardized version of something that was born of rebellion, anger, frustration and unity. In "My Therapy" Aaron states what hardcore has given to him; "So much of me has been washed out with the tide / Still there's nowhere else that I'd rather be / Drawn like a moth to a flame / Without these days I'd have gone insane / You have set me free."
In "Don't Go" Aaron confronts the pain of losing loved ones to death. He laments the pain others go through when not "ready to face life's end." He reflects on his own experiences, on those he's lost and on the finality of death: "Why can't I build a raft strong enough / To carry us through the clouds, the flames / Or any of that s*** that I don't believe in / I've seen the strength it takes to get past and move on / And would trade it all away to know how to keep you here forever."
The focus then turns back to the youth of today with "Wasted on the Young". Aaron addresses the troubled trend-following kids of today: "Maybe you don't need to waste some of the best days of your lives / trying so hard to abide by some preset list of rules / Just stressing about letting down all your friends / You're still too young to know where you stand on anything yet.
"Your strongest beliefs the ones that will see you through / Will come to you when least expected / They can't be forced, will not be shaped to fit / Truth does not come when called / Why would you waste one second of them / Falling in line, following rules / It sounds so simple but I know it's f***ing hard"
The final track on the album - and musically one of the strongest - is "Swan Song", Dalbec's apocalyptic musing coupled with a simple promise; "This is a promise I made to you / I'll be right there / I'll be right next to you / When Armageddon's been locked and loaded / I will come back for you"
The words Aaron Dalbec sing strike home with me - much akin to Blood for Blood and the anger and frustration I feel with the world, or the songs of Mike Ness in Social Distortion. This is the way music should be - no preconceptions, no fabricated images - not even a semi-typical "tough" hardcore tone. Just honest songwriting born of the heart and of experience - universal truths that can be shared and embraced by those who "know" what is going on around them.
This album grew on me. The more I understood the lyrics (and when I finally found a digitized copy of them) the more I was drawn to Bane. Dalbec and the rest of the boys should be proud of what they've achieved on this album - which I have decided to give a perfect rating for - not for the music itself, but just for the message and what it represents. I'd like to thank the guys for sharing this with us and say I really hope that this isn't their swan song.
If you'd like to check out some of the lyrics just click here and then buy the CD!