Caught In the Grips (Self-Released)
I have been anticipating this album since I saw the band open up for BIOHAZARD and MADBALL in upstate New York last year. It’s not every day that you are impressed with an upstart band with an old-school style. Northern New Jersey’s 96 is a band that plays to their strengths, eschews trends and writes good anthemic Hardcore. I saw an an entire skeptical crowd, be won over by their honesty delivery and cool live show. I suspect this album is just the start of bigger things for them.
“Had Enough” starts with a wave of sound that sounds like it was fired out of a cannon. All of the elements I enjoyed about the band were in play within thirty seconds of the first song. Great razor sharp guitar riffs will excite you and this band definitely puts their own spin on the music they grew up on. Vocalist COREY DONAHUE is still the star of the show with his furious delivery and thoughtful lyrics. Like many of the tracks here, the band says a lot without being repetitive or riding riffs too long. “Losing Grip” is a killer track with a punk sound and and metal backbone musically. It will make you want to slam all night in the mosh pit. Blink and you will miss it, “Darker Days” is a real throwback to the glory days of THE CRO-MAGS, WARZONE and YOUTH OF TODAY. Another song steeped in the tradition of the old is “Fast Money”. One of the things I loved about great hardcore back in the day was that it always taught you a lesson about life. The guys in 96 are not exactly wizened Sherpas, but they have enough street smarts and common sense to be sincere and not be too preachy. Other lighting quick cuts are “Hard Luck” and “Culture Shock”, which are no less impressive despite their short run time. My favorite track on the album is “Dried Up”, which has a distinct SUICIDAL TENDENCIES meets D.R.I. feeling that I can’t deny. Neat riffs, grinding grooves and a tasty guitar solo break made me feel as if I was hearing some 1991 lost Post HXCX masterpiece. Other top tracks are “16 Inches” and the epic closer “Rise Up”. The album goes by quickly at just over twenty minutes, but sounds strong on repeated listens too. 96 writes some catchy tracks with a lot of heart and soul. I’ll be excited to see them hit the road again soon and see where the journey takes them next.
You can buy Caught In the Grips from the bands’ Bandcamp page.
By Keith (@Keefy) Chachkes