Album Review: Raptors – “Destroy.Pain.Survive”

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Just like their namesake, Raptors is a fast, lean band with teeth and claws to spare. Describing their sound is to straddle two very different time periods; with the early days of hardcore meshing with the new. As aggressive as they come, the relative newcomers have kicked down the door to the scene with their debut EP, Destroy.Pain.Survive.

Hardcore isn’t the most diverse genre, differentiating bands can be difficult in a sea of drop-D chugging and screaming. This is where Raptors distinguish themselves. Trebly guitars are the norm here, along with fast moving riffs and rock-n-roll style solos. The resulting sound gives the impression of raw, uninhibited swagger. “Reciprocal Altruism” starts us off with a slow bass driven build up that ultimately slows to a stop before bouncing back full force and delivering a hardcore anthem.

Following in the footsteps of Minor Threat and Bad Religion, Raptors have named a song after themselves. “Raptors” opens with a fast power chord riff and ends with a melodic lead, in between is plenty of shouting and gang vocals. But as any hardcore fan will tell you, that’s hardly unique,  and the song would’ve benefited from more in mind than the pit.

“Ghost” fairs better in this department, as the Raptors explore the more melodic end of their genre. The riffs this time feature a tad more technique, palm-muted leads intertwine with chiming arpeggios and eventually become full on thrashing chords. The vocals are more expressive and dynamic on this track too, when the rough singing reaches its peak and becomes a throat shredding howl of despair, the song reaches a level of emotionality unmatched by the previous tracks.

It was a wise choice to name the EP after “Destroy.Pain.Survive.” This song is an example of Raptors at their heaviest, angriest, and ultimately most introspective. Hardcore is a genre noted for its strictness, but its rejection of vocal melody has left open a world of lyrical possibilities. More telling, more emotional, more honest; without the need to fit words to music, the words follow their own percussive rhythm and define their own form. One line that stands out in particular references the perceived aggression in the hardcore scene and adds a dose of transparency, “I’m so fucking insecure that anger and violence come much easier than good decisions.” Fragility is the polar opposite of the music’s tough image, but it’s more fertile ground for songwriting, ultimately offering up an emotional seed for the band’s sonic aggression.

Fist pumper, “Heavy Hearts” opens with an infectious lead riff and continues on with a subtle sense of melodic inflection. It’s a great song, a strong contender for the best of Destroy.Pain.Survive. “Restrictions” rounds it out, beginning with megaphone vocals and the steady chugging of a rhythm section, before moving on to a collection of fast riffs. It’s a fast and venomous song, complemented by its spectacular instrumentation.

I’m a fan of all punk, but I’ll be the first to admit that hardcore has its issues. To play the genre straight, without a prefixing post or melodic, can be exceedingly difficult to do without slipping into stagnation. Thankfully, Raptors put enough of their own spin on the genre to escape genericism.

Destroy.Pain.Survive is available on Raptors bandcamp page. Check it out here.

4/5


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One Comment

  1. Zeki7/24/2012 11:47 PM | Permalink

    Nada Surf was definitely one of my intro bands into the indie world. I found The Weight Is A Gift first, and was hokoed after that. They have such a great, pop (gasp!) / indie sound that stays away from the traditional Top-40 cliche, but brings the catchy melodies and then some. They are indeed highly underrated and I’m still in awe that they’re not more well known. But hey, at this level they can still sell out multiple gigs at the Troubadour, letting the super fans see them in an intimate setting you couldn’t at the Top-40 level. Great review!

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