New School, Old School.
I realise that as an impartial reviewer of punk rock music I should remain unbiased and see the merits of all forms of punk rock but unfortunately people don’t pay enough to be unbiased or to overcome my dislike of certain trends in punk. One that I wish had never spawned into existence is what I only know to call Pseudo Metal. It’s that brand of Hardcore that sounds like Djent-based heavy metal but the guys are playing a punk show and wearing dickies so the punk kids are confused and the metallers don’t want them because they already have Djent and heavy metal. I don’t like that style of Hardcore.
I like my Hardcore melodic and gritty and for it to have a real message behind it. I want it to be powerful but uplifting and have that sweet ass old school vibe and be fun to listen to. The kind of thing that only Frank Carter has any invested interest in making these days.
This ramble leads me nicely into The Black Museum by Lay It On The Line. A London based melodic hardcore group that I’m surprised I’ve only just heard of considering we’ve shared the same rough geolocation as bands for the last five or so years. The Black Museum is their debut album and serves up 10 brand new tracks. It’s this that serves as my very first taste of the band, having had it land on my lap from the always on point Disconnect Disconnect Records.
Things kick off and I already know I’m gonna be in comfortable territory with that double time drumming I love so much, hanging guitar feedback and chunky bass which gives way to tasty melodic riffage over first vocalist, Alice, screaming bloody murder. All of this coupled with a biting stab at corporate capitalism would work well as is but an extra nice step is second vocalist, Mike, breaking up proceedings with a gruff but tuneful middle eight. All in all, opener Level Up gives me a great insight into what to expect and I’m happy to dig in and hear more.
Lay It On The Line manage to keep things melodic whilst still being aggressive and are thoughtful, and often poetic, with their words - something that is pleasing to hear on something that could just sound like more angry ranting. Not everything is breakneck and when things calm down, on tracks like A Serious House On Serious Earth and Battery Farm Anachronism for example, it’s soothing despite the still ferocious vocals.
Standout tracks here for me are the really excellent opener for one, 120 Days, which is brutal and beautiful in equal measure and the oddly named chugging head banger, Oreo Speedwagon. Random 70s soft rock references aside, there’s a lot to love here and if you enjoy things heavy with a pinch of melody then this is the new record for you. One thing I would have like to see more of is the distinct vocal swapping found in Level Up. For the rest of the album you have Mike songs and Alice songs but nothing else with the deliberate vocal switch mid song. I’m a sucker for dual vocalists and like to see this sort of thing played up more.
Overall Lay It On The Line have managed to knock an extremely high class hardcore album out the park and if you’re looking to fill your boots in the, frankly too small these days, scene then this is a must have. Fast, aggressive, poetic, clever and driven. The Black Museum has everything you need to spark a fire under you and make your day.
Stream and download Lay It On The Line here: https://disconnectdisconnectrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-museum
Like Lay It On The Line here: https://www.facebook.com/layitontheline/
This review was written by Dan Peters.