Fucked Up

David Comes To Life

Written by: PP on 30/08/2011 22:02:54

Hardcore as a genre isn't known for its ambition. Rather, it's known for its honesty, sweaty basement shows and a united fan base that stands strong against any perceived threat to their community, which manifests through heavy and aggression-laden bursts of energy and simplistic song structures that shun variety by all means possible. Not so with Fucked Up, who for the past ten years have travelled their own road somewhere between punk rock, hardcore and post-punk, not really feeling at home at any of them so they've simply gone with whatever felt right instead. For that, they've earned critical acclaim, but also for their unique live shows which combine hypnotizing riffing with undeniable urgency, honesty and energy. But nothing they've done in the past comes even close to the ambition of "David Comes To Life", which can safely be labelled as one of the most ambitious hardcore records of all time.

Dear reader, welcome to hardcore's answer to "American Idiot", a rock opera which elevates hardcore to a mainstream status.

Lets ponder on the implication of that statement a little further: mainstream hardcore...surely that's a paradox that shouldn't be possible even on paper? That's exactly what Fucked Up have achieved on "David Comes To Life", however, an in-depth concept album spreading over 18 songs and 77 minutes of nearly anthemic hardcore, featuring layers upon layers of hypnotizing melody and a driving groove and repetitive riffs at the core of its sound. It's one which you can almost imagine to hear on the national radio, without compromising on vocalist Damian Abraham's raw grit or the band's leaning on hardcore punk. The whole proposition of the album is interesting, too. Its 18 tracks are separated into four acts: Act One: Love, then tragedy strikes the town, Act Two: David loses Veronica, and then himself, as he succumbs to guilt and despair, Act Three: Another character is revealed, putting the responsibility for Veronica's death into question, Act Four: A revelation from Vivian sheds more light on Veronica's death; Octavio and Vivian explain their motives, and David is reborn.

David, it seems, is a factory worker who's in love with a women named Veronica Boisson, and the concept details their relationship and them conspiring together in detail, told from several points of view: David himself, Veronica, Vivian, and the narrator, resulting in a story almost as ingenious as Boys Night Out's "Trainwreck". But I won't delve further into the concept as it would simply occupy the rest of this review.

Musically, "David Comes To Life" sees Fucked Up at their most melodic and polished, though references to old school hardcore bands (Black Flag, Pissed Jeans for instance) and more modern stuff by OFF!, Ceremony and Career Suicide are aplenty in the mix. Abraham's scream has been fine-tuned to sound more melodic as to not scare away potential listeners, but it's still sufficiently angry and rowdy to make hardcore and punk fans feel right at home. The band have an inimitable sense for a great melody/vocal dynamic, as you'll hear in songs like "Running On Nothing", "Queen of Hearts", "Ship Of Fools", "Life On Paper" and others. With guest vocalist Jennifer Castle handling parts of the story with a dreamy high-pitch voice, such as on "The Other Shoe", the added contrast ensures that variation exists, too, although the quirky repetitive riffs of Fucked Up never feel anonymous despite following a uniform sound throughout the record.

Another thing to note is that while we all love Fucked Up's highlight tracks like "Crooked Head", the truth is that in comparison to the entirety of "David Comes To Life", they seem rather simplistic and straight-forward, despite being great tracks. Even though the tracks mentioned in this review qualify as catchy (by hardcore standards), their melodies are more thought-out and complex in terms of layering and structure. That said, old fans need not to worry, this is still Fucked Up as they remember them, only in a more melodic and ambitious configuration. And despite all my praise in this review, "David Comes To Life" is not a masterpiece record. It's just a thoroughly solid and impressive hardcore record that shows it's possible to be melodic and harsh at the same time, and include an intelligent and thought-provoking concept in the process, all the while demonstrating that hardcore need not be limited to small clubs and festival tents: this is arena hardcore at its finest.


Download: Running On Nothing, Life In Paper, Ship Of Fools, Queen of Hearts
For the fans of: OFF!, Ceremony, Career Suicide, Pissed Jeans
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.06.2011
Matador Records

Fucked Up - Ship of Fools by Consequence of Sound

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