(Photo by Mike Petzinger Photography)
From its angry birth in the dirty ’80s, through its current fifth generational phase of evolution today, New Jersey hardcore has been the method of communication for rebel-rousing evangelists across the Garden State and the world beyond. Hardcore comes from the continued evolution of the original punk and heavy rock era, which also came from the same type of musical and cultural unrest. NJ punk was extremely prevalent and groundbreaking, boosting many famed bands such as Glenn Danzig’s original Misfits. Born from the same corporate greed that would eventually resurface and kill heavy metal in the late ’80s, punk undertones cleared the way for hardcore in NJ.
There are many bands that cross the mind when you bring up hardcore. Long Branch, NJ and the Brighton Bar were probably one of the richest birthing grounds for the musical form and bands such as Fatal Rage, Hogan’s Heroes, Mucky Pup and Samhain ruled the roost, putting tiny Jersey labels such as Mutha Records and Union County’s own Buy Our Records on the international map.
Surviving as one of the most long-running forms of rock and roll sound, the art form continues to this day through a new generation of traditionalists who understand the passion and rebellious exasperation that pushed originals such as Rosemary’s Babies and Adrenalin O.D. past the rigid confines of commercialism and into their own melting pool of solidarity and success. When I listen to Asbury Park’s own Hot Blood, this is the distinct vibration that surrounds them and their free-for-all blitz of musical mayhem.
Their new project, released on Asbury Park’s Little Dickman Records, is called No Kings. Little Dickman, like the bands that they sign, is a concise and focused independent. Concentrating more on quality than numbers,LDR brings the best available talent to a very modest table. This ethic results in heavy support overload that independent bands need in their freshman phase of formation. The new disc boasts over 15 “blood pumping” tracks and I jumped around in no particular order to find my favorites.
No Kings blows out of the player with a feisty little machine gun called “Scott.” Blitzkrieg speed pushes bass, drums and the gnarliest of guitars straight through the karmic-laden wails of Mat Kiley, who reanimates the bygone days of rambunctious monsters such as Stiv Bators.
Kiley has done his work when it comes to paint-peeling vocal durability as demonstrated on another gem called “You Can’t Hold Us Down.” The title alone says what we need to hear as the group blazes across the arc light of precision power and speed. It should be noted that while the band has the ability to blur the very essence of their present state of time traveling movement, nothing gets lost on the delivery.
“Chloe” is my number one choice for a radio-aimed hit. Alex Rosen shanks the listener with great big blades of razor sharp guitar that rips into the meat as bass and drum thunder from Charlie Schafer and Billy Straniero hold up the body of this rampant tune. Yeah, they probably don’t want to hear that this is radio-friendly, but this is the song that stayed in my soul, making its way into my leg as I leg-rocked to beat the devil. What can I say? Hot Blood might just have a hit song. I know, how disgusting, right?
“Your Band Sucks” made me laugh out loud, as I’ve been there about a thousand times before. When I was on the scene, my band used to show up as a unit to stand in front of shitty competition and stare at them. We might have all had on the same black t-shirt as well, I forget. Hilarious opinion flies high via Kiley’s tongue-in-cheek outlooks and precision mocking talents. Opening bass orchestration courtesy of Schafer sets the bone-crushing tone for this finger-pointing example of showing the world why four out of five doctors recommend certain people never entering into the world of music. This is a great example of rolling attitude and smart-assed brilliance into one big comical point of view.
OK, this band is in big trouble as popular song number two comes into focus. “Don’t Be A Dick” extols the peace-loving side of Hot Blood as they tell you, “Hey, basically you can do or be whatever you want, you can be the creepiest guy on the planet, or go into the priesthood, just don’t be a dick.” Succinct and sane advice in a world filled with complete and utter douchebags. Some would do well to listen to Hot Blood here and sing along where applicable, weeding out those individuals who may need to change their dickish existence. Of course, “Don’t Be A Dick,” like “Chloe,” just might end up on your playlist of favorites, but don’t be a dick to me, I’m only the messenger.
Another standout is the flurried animalism of “Real Bad Case.” This song reminds me of Black Oak Arkansas at 165 mph. The middle-eight modulation scurries into eerie, Cramps noir territory and is a perfect setup for the spitfire lead guitar work of Rosen, who dive bombs into the end of the tag to make way for Kiley, who never misses a beat as he preaches the notifications of similarity to the girl with the something tattoo.
The disc namesake, “No Kings,” is 32 seconds of AR-15 fired grit that gut shoots you from the get-go. The foursome pummel with conscience, pausing briefly 23 seconds in to refocus ears, mind and slam dance position. It’s in, on and out before you know it.
“Class Warfare” reminded me of a sweaty, Friday night at the Brighton Bar in 1985. Boisterous buildups blast Fear-styled (“Let’s Start A War!”) aggression from belching, 12-gauge bass and drum barrels as Kiley wails warnings to the masses. Never forget the reason hardcore exists. It’s written on the wall of the Brighton Bar and is signaled in this song. Listen carefully and follow the lead. Kiley reminds us all that “they got the power, but we got the numbers.” Damn straight, kiddies.
The trebled rampage of “Fair And Balanced” squelches from my weakening speakers, pushing heavy-bottomed guidance as Kiley roars à la Hogan’s Heroes frontman Scott Cassidy. At 1:35 of total time, this rollicking game of Russian roulette clicks and advances, blasting through mind-numbing passages and firing live round of Barr chord cacophony into your brain.
“Filling Up The Set” is another comical yuck-yuck aimed at the tiresome life of the bar, the industry standard, the hipster expectation and the scene in general. Using that “thong-in-cheek” comedy that A.O.D. made famous (“A combination of Minor Threat and Don Rickles”), everybody gets a dig in this 2:30 cornucopia of fun-filled grumpiness. I like the “Summertime, Summertime” by The Jamies chord pilferage used for the choruses here. The fact that they’re telling you that this song is here to hold a particular area in their repertoire is pretty god damned funny. Now go get your fucking shine box, Jerry.
Overall, there are 15 songs in varying degrees of delivery, and I tend to view this CD as a success. This is the best 32-minute ride through New Jersey’s past, present and future when it comes to the beloved core. Hot Blood represent the fifth wave of hardcore as we know it here in New Jersey. Bold, bombastic, thought-provoking good fun is what they offer, and it’s yours for the taking. All you have to do is reach out and grab hold.
The band will be unveiling No Kings at an all-ages party at the Asbury Lanes on April 19, where the CD will be available in good ol’ CD format. It will also be available via iTunes and other posh online outlets located throughout the universe. For more information on Hot Blood and their newest release, No Kings, head over to www.littledickman.com.