Any fan of hardcore punk will know Sick Of It All. The band has been one of the major players in the NY hardcore scene and have been around for 30 years now. And just to celebrate that massive accomplishment, the band keeps giving with the EP When the Smoke Clears. The fans that are getting this release aren’t just getting a litle disc with 5 brand new tracks, but accompanying the music is a book with many never before released pictures of the guys and testimonies by colleagues about the impact of SOIA on their lives and music.
I went through the book and it’s indeed a wonderful collection of pictures that cover most of the 30 years being on the road (and jumping around on stage). Every couple of pages you find a testimony about the band or one of the band members, written down by Davey Havok (AFI), Dennis Lyxzen (Refused), Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Arthur Smilios (Gorilla Biscuits) and Matt Kelly (Dropkick Murphys). Completing the overview of their career, some of the most iconic lines of lyrics are included as well, like the still fitting “We pledge allegiance to the fight, down to the very last one. We will never back down!”
The music itself is exactly what you could’ve expected from Sick Of It All: stomping hardcore punk with tons of moments to shout or chant along and socially relevant lyrics, calling for strength of mind and community. Title track When the Smoke Clears opens the release with just that. Be ready to stomp and shout along to “When the smoke clears, what’s left is real. We will survive the test of time! We’re out of step, step down a line! we will survive and never give up..!”. Clearly they’re not ready to calm down and not planning to do so anytime soon. Black Venom opens with a damn heavy and groovy riff, soon rolling into a typically sounding hardcore song. Here they’re voicing their opinion about the people that thrive on our fears by spreading a message of hate. In the time this album was made, it’s hard to not have Trump and prominent people like that in mind.
Doom Campaign is an even more clear refference to the presidential election campaigns that only just came to an end. They’re not happy about any of the candidates, looking at the lines “No one here can speak for us, no one here can earn our trust!”. Blood & Steel goes on in the hardcore punk style of Sick Of It All we all love. With Fortress they seem to want to end with a positive note. The band wants to make sure that we all know that they and the community of like-minded people will always be there to protect and fight for each other. And that once they get too old to be your “fortress”, they trust that you’ll be theirs. To me the perfect way to end the EP that celebrates 30 years of hardcore music! It really gives me a feeling of community and togetherness, which is really comforting in the present society.
“These arms are your fortress…
‘Till I’m old and grey and yours become mine
My arms are your fortress…
Cross my heart, it will never die
Life is hard with all its struggle and strife
If you’re not with me then you’re on my mind
Tell me anything you want, I will never judge
When your world goes wrong
These arms are your fortress…
Surrounding you are these assuring walls
Understanding, protection and love
From the lowest low to the very highest high
We’ll be on your side, on your side
We’re your stronghold, fortified
When your world goes wrong
These walls will never fall!”
This Sick Of It All release is a must get for any (hardcore) fan. When The Smoke Clears shows that after 30 years, the message brought through these kind of bands is still very relevant today and is very much needed. When you’re sick and tired of all the bullshit going on in this world, put on this record and get a release for your anger and frustration without forgetting the love and support of the community. They don’t bring anything new, but they voice the worries of several generations as they’re supposed to. Loved it, so fists in the air and a 8/10!
Release date: October 28th, 2016
Label: Century Media Records
1. When The Smoke Clears
2. Black Venom
3. Doomed Campaign
4. Blood & Steel