Rival Cinema – Sneer (Submitted Review)
Rival Cinema – Sneer
Released: Oct 11th, 2017
Rival Cinema are:
Adam Morse // Vocals
Rob Wu // Guitar
Chris Le // Guitar
Jay Therrien // Bass
Chris Campbell // Drums
Rival Cinema online:
Rival Cinema have rocked up with their absolute kick in the fucking teeth of a debut album, Sneer. They borrow from vicious brands of metal, hardcore, and punk to establish an aggressive and relentless sound over the course of 7 original tracks, and an appropriately killer rendition of ‘Tire Me‘ by Rage Against The Machine. This is easily a no filler effort, skillfully subverting the well-worn and stale hardcore sound with some truly engaging musicianship, unapologetic attitude, and a 25 minute assault of riffs.
The sound and message of this album are inseparable – punchy, politically driven, with a point to prove. Vocalist, Adam Morse, offers some blatant criticism of media and power figures, but most importantly, provides commentary throughout the album on the prominent social divides which all too often plague our modern times. More than this, in an atypical spin on hardcore tropes, Morse preaches the breaking down of these divides and a focus instead on the factors which unite us. This kind of genuine message is rare, not only in hardcore music, but also especially in a time where religion, politics, and sexuality dominate the fundamental disconnects between people. In fact, Rival Cinema are, in this case, representative of a movement just starting to find its feet in the hardcore scene. It’s very much uplifting to see music that is still without a doubt aggressive, but being crafted with positive energy, and promoting a positive message.
“Unity is the new rebellion” – Rival Cinema
What can be said about the sound of this album, other than it’s great, and perfect for their style. Much like Rival Cinema’s message, there is a no bullshit approach to the production of Sneer. They do away with the over-produced and perfectly polished sound of many label bands in the scene, and instead have opted for your standard – but oh so effective – distortion tones and mixing which resonates with the raw and genuine aura which this band executes so well. The appeal, then, comes not from overused glitch effects, or unnecessary bass drops, but instead from the authentic captivation produced by the music itself – which, in many ways, feels like one of the most organic releases in a long time.
Straight up, Morse is attention grabbing. His vocals have got a flair of urgency and authority, and he swaps seamlessly between western-driven twang singing, trademark hardcore yells, and full blown screams. The technical ability of these guys as musicians is evident as well. Page Hamilton of Helmet makes a guest appearance on ‘Bumper Caskets‘ with some standout lead work, and there are the small things (like the tempo curve in ‘Horseshoe Theory‘, and subversion of conventional song structure) that make the overall listening experience that much more enjoyable.
It is a testament to the capability of this band that there are as many memorable melodies as there are mind numbing breakdowns. ‘Normandy‘’s verse melody, and Fredua Boakye’s (of Bad Rabbits) feature on the chorus of ‘Elvis Presley Sneer‘ offer some great balancing contrast to the overall heaviness of the record – of which there is plenty.
If you want proof, look no further than the second to last track of the record, ‘Good Luck, Get Fucked‘, which is a 3 minute assault of circle pit worthy riffs and punky one liners such as “I’m not cutting you any slack / Just give me the fucking facts”. There is also something to be said about the plethora of breakdowns executed across this album. From the punk-inspired breakdown of ‘Good Luck, Get Fucked‘, to the all-out metal breakdown of ‘Elvis Presley Sneer‘ (complete with dissonance), Rival Cinema have got moshpits ready to open up for anyone.
The Rage Against The Machine cover is a personal touchy subject, only because I feel like it wasn’t even necessary. Some up and coming bands simply need the covers to keep the attention of the audience. In the case of Rival Cinema, however, the craftsmanship, songwriting, and production level is high enough that I would have preferred to hear another solid three minutes of blistering hardcore madness than another Rage cover. But by all means, it’s a solid rendition.
At the heart of this record, Rival Cinema have both added to the hardcore genre, and stayed true to its roots as well. The no nonsense attitude and aggressive nature of these guys have resulted in hard hitting, snappy, and very much to-the-point tracks which only rarely breach the 3 minute mark. Definitely worth a listen – even if you’re not a fan of the hardcore scene.
- Horseshoe Theory
- Elvis Presley Sneer (feat. Fredua Boakye)
- Good Luck, Get Fucked
Rival Cinema – Sneer tracklist:
- Horseshoe Theory
- Bumper Caskets (feat. Page Hamilton of Helmet)
- Elvis Presley Sneer (feat. Fredua Boakye of Bad Rabbits)
- Haute Couture
- La Verdad
- Good Luck, Get Fucked
- Tire Me (Rage Against The Machine cover)
Sneer is out now via Bandcamp.
Review by Miles Knox