Cruel Hand

Dark Side Of The Cage EP

Written by: PP on 17/04/2021 02:26:29

It's been five years since we've last heard studio material by Portland, Maine's innovative hardcore crew Cruel Hand. The last couple of records "The Negatives" and "Your World Won't Listen" have been exemplary in how to turn and twist the hardcore genre upside down, taking cues from the likes of Your Demise and Deez Nuts to basically throw a fuck finger at the genre loyalists in showing that hardcore can be fun without losing an inch of credibility. Both records were a breath of fresh air amidst a scene that's plagued by stubbornness to the required checkmarks of how hardcore should sound, unafraid of displaying a happier, less testosterone-laden image of the genre than others.

Alas, it's surprising to see the band regress on their brand new, four-track EP "Dark Side Of The Cage". They're still drawing from the melodic edges of the genre, utilizing extensive clean vocals and accessible riffs on a song like "Weeds", but it feels forced and less "we're here to break the genre as it is" than it used to. Hardcore has essentially been reduced to mere undertones where before it was the driving force that allowed the band to explore other ideas outside the genre ideals. The result? It sounds like a cheap version of Your Demise's later albums, with the added effect of sounding a tad... dated? It's not a word I expected to ever use in connection with a Cruel Hand review, but "Dark Side Of The Cage" EP essentially lacks the creative twists that previously characterized the band and made them a player to be reckoned with amidst a gray mass of hardcore bands each busy sounding tougher than the next one.

Effectively, "Dark Side Of The Cage" is the most melodic and accessible of Cruel Hand's records so far. Just have a listen to the chorus of "Sink (And Swim Down)". But this time, it's not for the better. The songs feel anonymous and lacking in the tongue-in-cheek aggression, instead giving off a forced vibe. Sadly, as thus far their output has been brilliant.


Download: Weeds, Dark Side Of The Cage
For the fans of: Your Demise, Cro-Mags, Deez Nuts
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.01.2021
Static Era Records / Dead Serious

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