CROSS-CHECK- Overwhelming Odds
I haven’t been this excited about a hardcore release in quite a long time. Why? Mainly because Cross-Check, while clearly functioning within the genre of hardcore, are unlike just about any hardcore band I’ve ever heard. Overall, the band loosely fit into the 90s style of hardcore—chugga chugga mosh parts, combined with plenty of fast two-steppin’ circle pit rhythms, screamed/shouted vocals as opposed to growled (anyone else getting a little tired of the overused deathcore grunts and growls?) with lots of gang vocals where needed as well.
What is surprising, however, is how the band use sounds and influences I’m not used to hearing in hardcore. After the rousing anthem of lead track “Legs Feed the Wolf,” the band slows down to some crunchy rhythms and almost post-punk chords for “You Got Heart Kid.” Track three is where things get really interesting. Musically it’s almost a rockabilly romp, but with shouted hardcore vocals and the return of those effective gang vox over the top warning, “The devil creeps, the devil crawls, the devil lies. The devil don’t take holidays!”
“Victorious” carries on the experimentation with mixing punkabilly rhythms with hardcore shouts (think Social Distortion on steroids), admonishing the listener to trust in the power of Christ: “Victorious you will be! Victorious you will see!” The instrumental number “The Puck Stops Here” rounds out the first half of the EP.
The second half features demo tracks of earlier material. However, these songs are just as strong as the newer studio recordings, just a little rawer. “Rattle and Roll” would be at home on a lost demo from Minor Threat or Ceasefire, as would “Drown Your Guilt.” “Open” once again sees the band experimenting with influences from other genres—this time it’s post-punk and even a touch of surf rock (not surprising considering the band’s contribution to the FleaHab Sober Living Environment Compilation last year, a compilation of surf rocks tracks). The track reminds me of the best elements of late 80s and early 90s alternative rock—that era when it seemed nothing was off-limits in terms of sounds and influences. “Lighthouse” carries on that hardcore shouting meets post-punk riffage to great effect. The vocal inflection on this track reminds me a little of No Division-era Hot Water Music.
The album is finished out with another hardcore romp in “Hard Head & Black Hearts,” but closes with a super-heavy outro with layered guitars and again those effective gang vocals. The band crank through all 10 songs in just over 20 minutes. I really hope this band can manage to stick it out and release albums for years to come. Best hardcore album in the last 5 years, IMO! (Thumper Punk Records) 4.5 out of 5 stars