So this is a belated review for 25 TA LIFE's new record. I know it came out in 2009, but I'm gonna do this review anyways, because these guys are hardcore giants. I missed out on Fallen Angel when it came out, so I had to go down the record store and get this with no seconds thoughts. A new 25TL new record is 'money in the bank' for a hardcore listener like me!
Let me start off by saying that that I always admired 25TL. I don't care what people say, calling Rick Ta Life macho or whatever, and all the gossip and rumors around this band... fuck that. 25TL were one of the bands that kept the hardcore spirit alive during the 90s and we should be grateful for that. They're still around putting out good records, so more power to them. Maybe not the most popular hardcore band out there (musically or stylistically), but 25TL are legends in their own right.
I didn't know what to expect when I got Strength Integrity Brotherhood (great title!), as 25TL have played around with a lot of hardcore styles, but at least I knew it would be heavy, and probably metallic. That's right! The CD starts with Heroin Demon, a totally in your face, heavy beatdown massacre with Rick Ta Life's trademark madman vocals. Then the songs start coming in a more sing-a-long hardcore tradition, but definitely rooted in brutal hardcore: the genre that 25TL established and are known for. Plus, this time they've got an awesome production sound.
The lyrics are always a big thing in a 25TL record. I'm glad to see Rick Ta Life coming back with the straight edge message and a ton of positivity, amidst all this negativity that prevails nowadays. 25TL lyrics have always been a unique mix of pessimism and optimism, maybe even the battle between the two. The same happens on this record. There are some really deep and bitter statements, based on all the criticism Rick Ta Life has gotten, but he manages to shine through and deliver an insightful positive message!
The guest appearances are many, too many to mention but there are some true legends right there, and they all give their best and add to the album. I will just mention Drew Stone from Antidote, who does some truly GREAT vox on the second song. Finally, there are two covers, a Warzone classic and a GG Allin (!) one. Weird, you might think, but they both fit in really well in the whole album and they are done in a 25TL style.
I don't know how much has changed since I was a kid and and was buying all the 25TL shit; back then, they were one of the most respected bands in the scene. The music, the messsage and the few photos on the insert gave this band the legendary status it took in our minds. All I know is that they still hold true to the values that inspired me and so many others to get involved with hardcore. Get this and mosh to it!