By the end of the 1980's New York City youth-crew was in its final days and tougher, fatter, metal-laced hardcore bands were ruling the Sunday Matinee shows at CBGB's in the Bowery. Somewhere in the thick of long hairs, skinheads, and horrible tattoos were East Side's Maximum Penalty. Maximum Penalty releases a demo and one EP and for some reason or another, the fine folks at I Scream Records decided that they needed CD treatment and the rest of history.
The demo is surprisingly well recorded for the times. The drums are punchy and the guitars are crunchy. The vocals are pushed up way far in the mix giving the demo an in-your-face attitude. The music is your basic crossover thrash punk/metal hybrid that hardcore purists would easily snob their noses and write this off as metal dudes trying to play hardcore to get some shows in clubs around New York. The vocals are on the high-pitched side and overdone. I outright guffawed when he yelled "Bust" in the opening track "Acceptance." The hilarity keeps coming when there's a rap at the beginning of "Be Yourself." The more and more funky the demo gets the harder I find it to type as I need to stifle laughter and recompose myself. Oh fuck, he's singing in a pseudo grunge voice at the end of "Nowhere to Turn To." Sorry, maybe at the time it was cool but it just comes off hackneyed and silly to me. Lyrically Maximum Penalty covers the usual bases of loyalty, friends, and being true to yourself. They seem to always have to remind us how tough they are or how angry they are. It's hardcore, Maximum Penalty, we get it.
Finally we get to the East Side Story EP which starts off with the diatribe Samuel Jackson says before he shoots someone in Pulp Fiction. Good lord, why not just use the whole "Royale with Cheese" part for most overused sound bites used on recordings in the early 90's. The EP doesn't stray too far away from the demo except being funkier and more metal and even more unlistenable. The vocals are even more hideously sung. Horrible, it's like hearing every single bad Cro-Mags songs sung at a karaoke bar by an extremely intoxicated White Trash Rob from Blood for Blood.
I have no clue why these two releases needed to be re-released. Are there voids in people's lives that need to be filled with Maximum Penalty? Was this band even that popular? Does anyone need to hear a band with overblown cock-rock vocals set to funk metal? Maximum Penalty is a joke with all their posturing and being true to your crew bullshit. There's even a song called "All Your Boyz" with a fucking "Z". You just can't make up comic gold like that. The East Side Story EP is even worse than the demo with all its hair-metal licks and boring riffs.
Maximum Penalty was another band in a large heap of bands that came from the dark days of NYHC that is best forgotten. Maybe somewhere there is someone waxing poetically about Maximum Penalty. However, that person is not me and this is just another CD to be added to the "Sell for Ramen" pile to take the used CD store.
3.5 / 10
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