Having recently gone through some much-needed “downsizing” in my personal life, hitting the gym has become a more common activity for me, so I selfishly jumped at the chance to review Salvation’s début album, Resurrect the Tradition. Salvation is a hardcore band featuring alumni of various other hardcore bands (including bassist Gary Meskil of Pro-Pain and Crumbsuckers), and this music is tailor-made to be a real life Game Genie for workouts. That said, hardcore is Swe-death levels of redundant to write about, as there are few artful and tactful ways of describing chugs, breakdowns, and shouted vocals that either aim to motivate or spew vitriol at various things. But damn it all, I’m paid in promos and ridicule to deliver reviews, not excuses.
Salvation’s recipe is a familiar breed of hate: take the big simple riffs of To Mega Theiron, amplify their kinetic force, and further simplify them until they’re huge and obnoxious, add a healthy dollop of 90s New York hardcore a la Madball and Merauder, and garnish with vocals that rarely, if ever, deviate from a vein-bursting shout. It’s ludicrous to expect innovation when listening to hardcore, but that’s not the point of the genre; hardcore’s ultimate goal is to be a musical sledgehammer, and Salvation gets this aspect mostly right on Resurrect the Tradition with riffing that never strays from chugging and breakdowns (even the faster riffs are double-time chugs), and Resurrect the Tradition‘s consistently punishing mid-tempo nature keeps the majority of the album at MOSHCON 1.
The downside of this consistency is the lack of an obvious highlight on the album, and the pervading “one trick pony” feeling of a band so relentlessly pursuing one narrowly specific sound. I’d be lying if I said Resurrect the Tradition entirely justifies its 35 minute runtime, as being assaulted with non-stop chugging and breakdowns does grow a bit tiring, but the inevitable monotony never manifests itself into outright irritation. Even with these criticisms, Salvation’s music more often than not satisfies a primal urge for no-frills, no-nonsense musical beatings, which almost makes said monotony enjoyable in spite of itself. It’s obvious Salvation wants to play nothing but Frosty traditional hardcore, and their strict, self-imposed adherence to staying inside their rigid stylistic box has its own charm.
Resurrect the Tradition‘s production is big, burly, and fairly dynamic, fitting well into its natural sonic habitat: volume dial at “too loud” and bass boosted for maximum impact. Vocalist Kimbo Reichard dominates the proceedings, with Mike King’s chunky rhythm guitars not too far behind in the mix. Reichard is an entertaining frontman, but having his vocals so high up in the mix really emphasizes the lyrics: “See Thru the Lies” features the gem “here it comes, straight to your dome,” and my personal favourite track, “By Any Means,” sees Reichard shouting “this ain’t no place for the weak to represent” over some huge chugging that’s basically a sped-up version of Monotheist‘s “Progeny” (bonus points for a verse riff that’s literally “Legion of Doom” mixed with vintage Celtic Frost). Sure, it’s ridiculous on paper, but Reichard sells it on record, making his nuanced-as-a-shotgun-blast lyricism fun instead of grating .
Resurrect the Tradition is a bit of misnomer, as both newer blood (Terror) and old blood (Madball, Sick of it All) are still churning out quality traditional stuff in the genre, and chances are you’ve already heard a better version of Salvation‘s core sound. I won’t call it a comeback (the style’s been here for years), but I will call it a decent, if sometimes monotonous, release that sometimes feels like one long song. Thankfully, that song ain’t bad [No ragrets! – Steel Druhm].