Sunday, September 2, 2012

Setback - "Step Up Your Game" (full length, 2012, Crash Course Records)

In a world of maximum political correctness and general kindness, sometimes it's good to go back to the anger and negativity that has fuelled so much of what is good about hardcore. Therefore let's take a look at NY's finest Setback who have returned and boy, are  they pissed. They surely have that bad ass feel that makes you want to go wild, cause some havoc, prowl the streets like you are a crazy motherfucker and all that. Yes, this music intends to bring out your bad side and if you let it, it will!

NYHC might be an easy genre to fuck up -- but not if you are one of the underrated OGs of the scene. Setcback? They are just that. No matter what they do, you know they'll have their hearts in the cold dark streets where hardcore initially emerged from. As soon as you hear the rolling drums over the spoken rapped intro, you know your're in for some pent up, hard-edged NYHC intensity. The only difference to many other hardcore bands of this kind is that Setback actually live what they preach, and thus give a very real lesson in streetwise mentality and real hardcore music.

Setback has always sung about the realities of living in a cold fucked up world. In this new record, they do it through short, heavy hardcore blasts that have one foot in beatdown hardcore, but definitely not in the way you expect. It's just that the heaviness of beatdown has been applied to the NYHC formula. Great fucking job! Yeah sure, there are some metal moments, but mostly this is just brutal hardcore that will stand the wear and tear of the scene changes and trends. It would have sounded good 5-10 years ago, and it will sound good in 5-10 years from now. And that's a fact.

Some changes that this new record brings is the absence of Bundy's characteristic vocals, who - I think - is now only doing rap. This is a big change and new guy has big shoes to fill (as I consider Bundy one of the biggest voices in modern NYHC). But Phil, the new singer is doing just fine as he screams like a rabid bulldog! Maybe not as a distinguishable tone, but heavy and angry as fuck! Other changes can be found in the production section, which is so solid and heavy you won't believe. Strong bass presence, nice and 100% NYHC drum sound and playing.

I also want to give an extra point for the perfect album title (and title track): Step Up Your Game -- what an awesome title for an album, amidst all of today's hardcore empty words. It's also a statement of purpose to those who stay down because... well, they choose to stay down!

I will be honest with you. I love this shit so much. The toughness, the integrity, the brutality makes me feel good, it makes me feel stronger, ready to take on the world. It's everything to me. Hardcore like this made me survive and brought me until here, so how could I ever say something bad about it? No! Nothing else to say... Just get this fucking album and wait for the interview that's about to come soon!

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