Here I am, living in Brooklyn thinking there’s no good hardcore punk left in NYC. All the bands I grew up listening to from the NY scene have dissolved and call it a lack of motivation, but I never really actively searched out the new generation. Satisfied with metal for the time being, I haven’t dabbled in the genre a whole lot as of late. My disconnect from the hardcore punk scene is probably the same reason why many of you stopped listening to it. There was a time period in the late 90′s where the music was just really fucking good. A lot of bands paved the way for a new generation of bands to shamelessly impersonate. The end result was the 2000′s and hardcore died. Cry shields and skin tight jeans became a staple at every show and rather than moshing for fun, kids would practice ‘moves for the pit’ at home. It was laughable and for a lot of people, was enough reason to ‘move on’. The bands included. Even the great Cave In went down a shoegazy and post-punk path. It didn’t stop there.
While some bands find a way to keep hardcore punk in its roots, others fell victim to the trends. Fast forward to modern times. Hardcore is, generally speaking, going through a bit of a revival. Much like thrash and death metal, there’s a new wave of ‘old school’ hardcore punk brewing and much to my surprise, Brooklyn’s The Men are one of those bands. Their new self-released LP Immaculada has found new ways to revive a long dormant genre. Immaculada builds its character from sounds of the past and present, something that usually proves to unsuccessful model, however with Immaculada they pick just the right direction. Much like Refused did, The Men mix mod, punk and post-hardcore to offer up a healthy breathe of fresh air to the scene. This may sound like a bit of a stretch but I imagine The Men to have taken all their musical influences and combine them in one heterogeneous mixture. If you listen to Side A, you’ll hear a bit of Earth, Lightning Bolt and even Emperor. It’s an interesting combination for sure.
“Stranger Song” sets the stage for Immaculada. An instrumental composition filled with distortion, feedback and one big crescendo. The second track, “Problems/Burning Up” is set up in a similar way. A long intro that collapses into a punk-infused culmination of sounds. In fact, most of the album is set up in this manner. Long, instrumental intros that are pulling in influences for various genres create a bit of a dichotomy in each track. “Grave Desecration” is just about one of the only tracks that begins with a furious upheaval. Akin to early black metal, the sound is heavily compressed, vocals are non-distinguishable and all that’s maintaining order are the constant blast beats accompanied by tremolo-picking and cascading riffs. Here’s where a pattern emerges in Immaculada, each side of the album has a different theme; it’s an ever-apparent schism in the album. “Madonna; The Star Of The Sea” marks another Earth-influence, lots of distortion, sub bass and layers upon layers of texture; it’s gritty as all hell. As the longest and best composed track on the album, it really shows an immense knowledge of music and proves that The Men are composers moreso than musicians.
Immaculada rises from the dead with “Lazarus”. If you recall that schism I referenced earlier, this is where it begins. The little bit of hardcore and punk influence is gone and The Men pull in sounds akin to post-punk and bands like the Lemonheads and the Buzzcocks. There’s a youthful resurgence to the album. It’s more upbeat and holds firmly to the saying that there cannot be darkness without light. This theme continues with “Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition” which reminds me of a lot of bands that were on Initial Records in the mid-90′s. Think more so The Jazz June and Elliot than Planes Mistaken For Stars but it even eerily echos the sounds of early Dinosaur Jr. Now, pause a minute. This album went from being self-reflective and cold to energetic and youthful with one singe flip from side A to side B. Even the up-beat and energetic track “Oh Yoko”, while being slightly abrasive, is still done so in a positive tone. More upbeat than d-beat, it revitalizes Immaculada in its final moments. The title track “Immaculada” brings the LP to a close with one really solid 5-minute long experience.
Somehow The Men have breathed a breathe of fresh air into my lungs. With my teenage years spent flipping through splits and LPs at the local record shop and my adult years spent downloading and deleting files, Immaculada offers up a bit of nostalgia. Don’t expect to hear break-downs and circle pit anthems. Focus on the energy and beauty of the album and you won’t be let down. The Men show that hardcore punk can be beautiful without losing its balls and Immaculada, like albums of the past, will hopefully go on to influence a revival in the NYC hardcore punk scene.
The chances of you getting a hold of one of the original 500 pressings is slim so head over to their blog to pick up a free copy.- Prolly