While to some, hardcore is a type of pornography that involves penetration and giraffes, for others it's a style of music, even a lifestyle. When punk and hardcore were originally birthed, they were fast, radical, aggressive, and socially conscious forms of expression. Twenty-odd years later, punk and hardcore have all but lost their edge. For one, neither is all that fast anymore - death metal and grindcore surpassed punk and hardcore in that area years ago. Secondly, it's a recycle of the same old thing - the sound hasn't progressed and the lyrics for the most part are afraid to say anything that hasn't been said before. Songs about positive thinking, friendship, hard times, etc. aren't necessarily topics that have lost their meaning, but what happened to questioning the status quo? Here's where Takaru comes in. Takaru doesn't sound like your traditional hardcore band, but they have all the ingredients that would make them one; their latest There Can Only Be None is punk/hardcore in essence, just don't expect what my Algebra teacher would call old-hat.
Before listening, I'd suggest taking a breath just as the singer, Josh, does at the beginning of the CD. All right, assuming that you are ready now, prepare for a rush of notes aimed at your head. Imagine if Majority Rule combined both their pretty and heavy parts, and that's what Takaru might remind you of. Besides the instrumental song, "I.D.N.N.I.T.KH.T.R.," they never really go off on pretty tangents, but instead stay brash and loud the entire time. It's not all harsh, though. Takaru manage to make something that sounds hard very melodic at the same time. Meanwhile, Josh does angry yelling/screaming over it all. Every so often Sean, one of the guitarists, does backups. It would be nice if he did backups more often, because the layering of his almost-death-metal-deep growls over the main vocals creates a very nice, full sound. Fans of Takaru from their split with A Light In The Attic will definitely dig this.
With Takaru's inventive use of vocals definitely separates them from whatever bands people would pool them with. My only complaint from their subtle move is that they don't have an equivalent on There Can Only Be None to "1849 Revisited," which had this really melodic, rising feel to it. But, like the split, the sound quality on this release is superb. This could be attributed to Zack Ohren who really knows how to exemplify a band's sound without sacrificing the energy of the performance.
One of the main problems of punk bands is when they sing about a problem, there's usually a lot of complaining (see: "Fuck the government! Everything sucks!"), but not much said on how to improve the situation. Takaru, on the other hand, complain, but they offer several solutions, as well. They realize it won't be simple to make a change, but they give information on things you can do (some easy and some larger/harder) to promote change. After the lyrics of every song, in the liner notes, there's an explanation behind the meaning of the words. Take "Charge It To Valhalla" for instance, with lyrics like, "Born into wanting more then we could ever afford and we are sucked in and we are held down on our knees stuck in slow decay." Afterwards it is explained that we live in a "debt-based economy" and the group suggests that listeners "shop at local independent businesses" and list a bunch of URLs for further reading.
I'm sure skeptics on the sidelines will make fun of Takaru for "hating the USA," but at least the group is attempting to make things better. They care. What really makes this record stand out is the fact there's so much feeling put into it that it's easy to understand where these guys are coming from. Takaru is not just hateful to be hateful - this release is for fans of punk/hardcore who are tired of the same old thing. This is for fans of heavy music. This is for fans of metalcore who are sick of cheesy, contrived breakdowns. This is for fans of rock-n-roll. I guess There Can Only Be None could be classified as "post hardcore," but unlike other stuff you could find filed under that category, the spirit of hardcore still thrives here.
8.8 / 10
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