Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Remembering the band i rise with a review of their demo five years after the fact

i rise was a hardcore band from Massachusetts. I forget how I found out about them, I feel like they were playing a show with Verse or something, but whatever the case, I wound up listening to some basement recordings they had on their MySpace page. For being basement recordings, they sounded pretty good, and you could tell that the band was serious and not like anything else going on. I was excited to find a new band that actually had the promise of being decent. They said they would be recording a demo soon and would mail it to you for $3 or something like that, so I sent them my $3 and soon got my CD in the mail, personalized nonetheless. Inside the foldover cover, the singer wrote "Alway [sic] rember [sic] to lick it before you stick it. Remember that my friend Chris! - Nicky" It was surely awkward, but if the man's message was to not be selfish with your sexual partner, then I can get behind that.

More importantly, the demo straight ruled/rules. It's four songs, all killer. Musically, I would put it in that 108/Burn style of midtempo moshy hardcore, with some fast parts. The guitar work and drumming are great. I know they had different people in the band, but whomever played drums here was really good. The singer and one guitar player are brothers and were the only constants, I believe. There are lots of little pinch harmonic squeals thrown in here and there. Many of the guitar lines are kind of metallic, but not in a cheesy way and not really even in an overt way. They're just good. It's all really fresh sounding, especially for when this came out. There really weren't other bands around doing this kind of thing. As for the vocals, they alternate between the 90s hardcore double tracked talked parts (Earth Crisis, Morning Again, Culture, Poison the Well, etc.) and screaming. The lyrics are good too. Two of the songs are about how much he hates religion, but not some juvenile shit about how Jesus sucks or typical punk stuff about how religion is a business. This is more about how religion ruins the world on a personal level and trying to make it through as a thinking person in a thoughtless world. For example - "You call me crazy for my beliefs, or should I say the lack thereof. But you're the one that lives life for death praying second after second to an imaginary figurehead." Or, "Some preach and scream 'the American dream,' and blow up clinics for what they believe. Some kill with bombs strapped to their flesh and truly believe they're different from the rest." The other two songs, I think, are more about broad personal struggles to escape the shittiness of modern life and I guess to just not be/feel confined in what you think or do, and also to live and say what you believe, to do what you believe in.

We played with them once, probably toward the end of them being a band. I think they were a four piece, but still sounded great. They played the song about praying second after second because our friend asked them to. They were cool guys. The guitar player was wearing the Nirvana Sliver shirt, and I think he was playing "On a Plain" while they were setting up, so that scored high marks in my book, obviously.

I'm guessing I got this some time late winter/early spring of 2007, as it was recorded January 22nd, 2007. Whatever the case, when I got it, I listened to it a lot, like every day for a long time. It's really short, so it's easy to listen to several times in a row. I still listen to it. It's my favorite thing they did. They put out a seven inch after this called "Down" that was good, as well as a split with Soul Control. They did an LP, "For Redemption," and I'm pretty sure broke up/broke down soon thereafter.

They still have that MySpace page up, and have an explanation about why they stopped playing. They say that they kept making less money every time they went on tour (as in negative money) and it was burning them out after two and a half years. I think the larger issue is that, unfortunately, there really just wasn't and probably still isn't space for a band like this. It hasn't been "cool" to care about stuff in hardcore for so long now. There will always be a little sub-scene of people who are into political bands or whatever you want to call them, but that shit died out with the masses of hardcore fans at some point in the late 90s. Let's blame Floorpunch. Anyway, it sucks that this is the case. The same thing happened with Verse. That band's last record, Aggression, was fucking sick, but most of the kids who were/are into music that sounds like that and go to shows like that don't want to hear it. They are militantly apathetic, except when it comes to issues of straight edge, Nikes and colored vinyl. i rise existed in a liminal space where they were not explicitly political enough for the political kids and way too political for most hardcore kids. Oh, and I think all of the labels that put out i rise records went under (not because of putting out i rise records, ha), so that makes it hard to be a band. Plus there is the whole issue with MySpace killing DIY shows cause there were way too many bands trying to "tour" and instead of doing any kind of work, they would just send out mass messages to get on shows. Then there were too many shows happening and people got tired of going and people got tired of doing shows for bands that didn't understand or want to understand what DIY was about, viewing "the scene" as some kind of social/economic ladder mixed with the Hollywood Strip hair metal scene of 1985. People are still burned out on doing/going to shows. There also aren't any good bands.

Anyway, thanks i rise. I appreciated you when you were around, and always will.

No comments: