While neither Direct Hit! nor Hold Tight! are what one might consider to be a “household name” just yet, both have built up their respective fan bases considerably in the past year and have become somewhat standard names in internet pop punk circles. From Direct Hit!’s high energy bursts to Hold Tight!’s ability to sound like Lifetime, (but not sound like the million other bands that sound like Lifetime), it seemed almost like a no brainer that if the two bands did a split together it would be a modern pop punk masterpiece.
Unless they decided to put out a hardcore split – which they did.
Rather than playing their usual styles, both bands have literally turned their amps up to eleven for their respective halves of this album. With songs that average a minute to a minute and a half, this split features the heaviest output from either band to date.
The Direct Hit! half is so heavy that it’s borderline metal. It’s lacking insane guitar solos, but other than that, these songs would be right at home on a Roadrunner Sampler. The vocals were recorded by a guest singer, Kyle Booth of the band Whisky Pig, rather than lead singer Nick Woods. The story behind these songs is that they were written at a point in time when Woods and bassist Robbie Scroeder weren’t sure if they were going to continue on in Direct Hit!, so they wrote music for a new project that never came to be. When they decided to use the lyric-less songs for this split, they asked Booth to come in, write lyrics and sing for them, which is how they ended up sounding more like Sepultura and less like themselves.
Hold Tight!, on the other hand, has shown off their ability to write fast and short songs on 2011’s Call the Zoo EP. But whereas Call the Zoo still sounded like Hold Tight!, the band (under the adopted alter-ego name, Tight Hold) finds themselves exploring faster and rougher territory on their contributions to this split, sounding more like Kid Dynamite with an ever so slight touch of early Rollins-era Black Flag. These songs are filled with lots of feedback, shouted vocals, and a pounding bass making it highly reminiscent of 90’s melodic hardcore bands. The tracks Stagger I and Stagger II slow things down to a grinding beat, alluding to Damaged I & II (particularly the former) while the cover artwork for the album is even a none-too-subtle reference to the iconic hardcore LP.
This split is not Direct Hit!’s finest ten and a half minutes, and despite the songs being kind of good (for what they are), they’re sure to cause some rifts in the Direct Hit! fan base for being so drastically different. Hold Tight!, meanwhile, finds themselves in more comfortable territory; their foray into hardcore is on par with, if not better than, their usual style. This split is not exactly essential listening for either band, although it is a fun novelty for pop punkers with a taste for hardcore.