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Killing the Dream - In Place, Apart Review

by Mark Hensch

Maybe it's the fact I'm due to graduate from high school in a few days, or maybe it is the fact I like to maintain a pretty strong grip on my roots and my past, but for whatever reason I find myself awash in a sea of nostalgia these days. California's Killing the Dream aren't helping me any, as they seem to be taking an inspiring lead in today's hardcore/metalcore scene and actually playing real hardcore. There, I said it. Today's wussy, faux-posturing "metalcore" definitely lacks the integrity and passion old vanguards of the scene like Agnostic Front, Minor Threat, or (dare I add these crossover legends to the mix?) D.R.I., and in this day and age those of us who know real music when they hear it should no longer be afraid to call it. Sorry kids, you haven't been listening to hardcore all this time. Killing the Dream is a lot closer, though they are still flawed and struggling to find an identity as most bands are.

On In Place, Apart, KTD blast through just short of a 1/2 hour's worth of primal, pummeling hardcore. The only band I can really equate this act's heavy, shouting sing-alongs and crunchy guitar riffs to are Equal Vision's Bane, though comparisons to lighter contemporaries like Comeback Kid are probably not inaccurate in the slightest. Rather, if you dig music that is honest, raw, vulnerable, fast, and pissed off all at the same time, you'll probably enjoy this.

From open to close, In Place, Apart seethes with the gritty, blood-on-your knuckles punch to the face hardcore lost somewhere in the early 1990's. I'm no expert on the history of the genre, believe me, but I feel reasonable saying that this release has more in common with the genre's Golden Age than the modern scene. In addition, it's been awhile since I've found myself enjoying the flow of a hardcore album as an entity rather than one or two great tracks surrounded by tolerable filler. It is so refreshing, it made me shy away from my normal song-by-song approach to reviews such as this. All the same, I will point out some highlights. Upon hearing the first song, "Rough Draft (An Explanation)," I knew right away what I was getting into (carthartic hardcore) and it is also readily apparent Kurt Ballou of Converge produced this. I can hardly think of more malicious combinations then the pairing of the mud-caked "If It Rains" and the absolutely phenomenal "Where the Heart Is," both of which channel the ferocious stomp of the Cro-Mags perhaps. Come to think of it, song number six, "We're All Dead Ends" couldn't be any better, as it is the best song on the album due to its blistering emotion and vibrant gang-land yowls. At first it took some getting used to, but the healthy dose of melody present in "Sick of Sleeping" is a welcome change, and the band loses none of their slicing aggression. Moody closer "Four Years Too Late" is what slow-tempo hardcore should sound like (by God!) and I'll be damned if it doesn't sound like a circle pit waiting to happen by song's end.

Killing the Dream stand poised to make both veterans, noobs, and tweeners like myself better appreciate the distant past that hardcore forged for itself, and here's hoping their street warfare translates into well-deserved credit for their battering ram of a sound. If you'd appreciate that final moment of emotional clarity before you get plowed over by a speeding truck, this sick puppy wouldn't mind being adopted. Pick it up!

Track Listing
1. Rough Draft (An Explanation)
2. Critical Thought
3. Post-Script
4. If It Rains
5. Where the Heart Is
6. We're All Dead Ends
7. Ante Up
8. Past the Stars
9. Sick of Sleeping
10. Writer's Block
11. 39th and Glisan
12. Four Years Too Late

CD Info and Links

Killing the Dream - In Place, Apart

Label:Deathwish Records

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