The Break In – Unbowed
The members of Kent hardcore mob The Break In have been heavily involved in the (apparently) thriving Canterbury hardcore scene in one way or another for over five years. So, with this wealth of experience, and following in the footsteps of previous Canterbury success-story November Coming Fire, expectations are high for The Break In's third album to date, 'Unbowed'.
Generally speaking, all hardcore bands make the same two claims about their music. Firstly, they say that it's not identikit and bland like those bands out there. Accordingly, The Break In's record label, In At The Deep End Records, claims that 'Unbowed' steers clear of "the clichés which are currently rife amongst the so called nu-hardcore or metalcore scene". Secondly, they claim that their music is so powerful that listening to it is like being punched in the face (or some similarly aggressive metaphor). And, sure enough, according to the band's Myspace page they sound like "RAW POWER" (yes, in capitals). The key question is: just how true are these claims?
Track one, (the delightfully titled) 'Coffin Dodger', opens with an unpleasant, yet slightly atmospheric, groaning sound effect – a cross between a decaying zombie's moan and a diseased sheep's bleat. The fact that the vocals, which kick in soon after, sound exactly the same as this hellish noise immediately let you know that you're in for a gritty experience. Decaying-zombie/diseased-sheep vocals aside, the song is a decent, but not exactly unique, hardcore track. A tolerable start.
The first big test of any hardcore album is the second track. Is it going to be a new track which takes the album somewhere different, or is it just going to sound the same as the first one? Devastatingly, Unbowed's second track 'Iron Hammers' is the latter. This gave me an all too familiar sinking feeling. And indeed, it quickly becomes clear that The Break In are producing songs that are barley distinguishable from each other or, for that matter, from any other run-of-the-mill hardcore act. The drums, the guitars, the throat-scraping vocals...it's all been heard before, right down to the trite, clichéd song titles: 'Bleed For The Leaches', 'Wake The Devil' or 'We Are the Plague'.
The Break In suffer from a classic hardcore problem – they don't do anything particularly original and all their songs sound far too similar. It may be RAW POWER, but it's RAW POWER we've heard before.