Wednesday, September 11, 2002
The ultimate legacy of New York City hardcore may not be the music that sprang from it while the scene was thriving but the tributaries that emerged once it imploded. Bands like Orange 9mm, Quicksand and Rival Schools have taken the spirit, attitude and aggression of bands like Agnostic Front and the Cro-mags and expanded the musical vocabulary into exciting new avenues.
Long Island-based Glassjaw are hardcore survivors for sure. They were originally a band called Sons of Abraham, but given the music on "Worship and Tribute," their major label debut, they embraced the thrash/speed metal of the late 1980s as much as the punk hybrid hardcore.
In fact, the group adopts many of the movements that followed the late 1980s sound. There's unadulterated speed trips, introspective emo-core and machine-like guitar riffs. (Thankfully, there's no rock-rap.) It's a powerful disc, but it doesn't make an overly powerful statement.
Things start off with guns a blazin' on "Tip Your Bartender," a breakneck exercise that allows frontman Daryl Palumbo to shriek at blood-curdling levels. Much of the remaining disc keeps the intensity but takes on a more melodic approach. "Must've Run All Day" contains a nice mixture of the two. It's hard to tell if Glassjaw is trying to stay true to its roots or become a garden variety modern rock band. The answer seems to lie somewhere in between. Drummer Larry Gorman is a powerhouse and never allows the band to wander too far from its past. Yet a tune like "Ape Dos Mil" is playful and likely aimed straight at the ear of radio programers. The band is at its best when falling somewhere between the two such as on the proto-punk of "Radio Cambodia" and the rollicking "Metropolitan Blood-less." But those type of songs are too few and far between to make "Worship and Tribute" much more than a standard issue post-hardcore effort.