There are bands who you rush to get the new record to see what direction they’ve gone. There are others you return to time-after-time because they have a style and they’ve nailed it. File Western Addition in the latter category. Frail Bray continues their West Coast melodic hardcore tradition without any surprise changes-of-direction.
The band plays what used to be called “The Fat Sound,” but with a bit of a harder edge than some of their labelmates that helped coin that term. It takes an undeniable hardcore base with punchy rhythms and shouted choruses, but with melodic flow and guitar leads that soar more than they stomp. Jason Hall’s coarse delivery is part throat-shredding vitriol with just enough singsong flow to give it genuine flow. The dual guitar interplay of Ken Yamazaki and Tony Teixeira gives it depth and energy with subtle metallic flourishes that are concise enough to give bursts of energy without feeling self-absorbed or over the top.
Standouts this time around are “They Burned Our Paintings” and “Rose’s Hammer II,” both of which balance melody with raw emotion. Overall, Western Addiction plays hardcore with singalong moments that are somewhat masked by the harsh vocals and punchy hooks. Closing track “Deranged By Grief” pulls all those elements together with fiery gang vocals, charging riffs, and an impressive range of emotion and tempo for a three-minute hardcore song. “Lurchers” is a guitar track, peppered with metallic tinges and vocals that range from angry snarls to guttural growls. “Laurette” is a circle pit rager. Then, in “Wildflowers of Italy,” a midtempo chugger, Western Addiction showcases their melodic side while calling for positivity and hope against a culture that seems hellbent on highlighting the negative.
The press sheet on this record concludes on the term “bright hardcore,” and it’s a great descriptor. This is loud, fast and angry. But there’s a hopeful tone within that shines light on a more hopeful message.
7.5 / 10
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