While Western Addiction have only released one full length, the die-hard praise it gets is revealing. For many, Cognicide is a minor classic and Pines is a long awaited return, and while only three songs, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t worth the wait.
As soon as EP opener “Black Salt” began I realized that even though this was their first release since 2005, Western Addiction hadn’t missed a beat. They still play pure form punk rock, drawing from Black Flag and other early 80’s hardcore heroes. Pines is just as driving, aggressive, and riffy as its predecessors, but compared to many of its contemporaries its a wake up call. Lyrically, it’s also filled with deliciously visceral imagery (“Blown reek, brass tacks/ Tendrils solder around the nape of your neck/ Black salt, fanglets/ A gold watch in exchange for your quivering flesh”) bringing to mind punk rock’s most classical cause: confrontation.
“God Says No” is another anthemic number, featuring an unhinged guitar solo and some more punk rock lyrical perfection. The pace on Pines never lets up, and this along with another brilliant hardcore release (Paint It Black’s Invisible) from earlier this year, has led me to believe that the EP is truly the perfect delivery method for the art form. The short, loud, and pissed off nature of the music is a natural fit for the shorter format– like an adrenaline shot of righteous fury.
The final track, “My Opinion Is, I Hate It,” opens with a single note lead that transforms into power chord chugs, before finally taking a backseat to the bark of the vocals, transforming once again into a sort of distorted punctuation. It’s another rollicking song, and another win for Western Addiction.
Pines is an amazing EP, and proof that hardcore can be just as vital, powerful, and, well, good as it was in its heyday. Western Addiction may have been gone for awhile, but their return is a welcome one.