108’s back! Last seen something like 11 years ago, 108 was at that point a pioneer of Hare Krishna hardcore, a label that no longer truly fits as most of the band has now moved on to Hinduism. The thread of spirituality still makes its way through much of latest album A New Beat From a Dead Heart, though vocalist Robert Fish (a.k.a. Rasaraja Dasa) seems to have moved to more universal sentiments, like the idiocy of the war in Iraq (“Resurrect to Destroy”) and inescapable hopelessness (“Repeat”, which closes the album). The grandest 108 experiences tend to be the hardest, as 108 is at its best when the band incorporates metal riffs and lots of screaming. Those are the times when you can feel the emotion, the drive, and the power of the band screaming through your speakers. When they slow down the pace, things get a little iffy. “The Sad Truth” is filled with platitudes like “I dream of a world where I can love you, in spite of what keeps us apart / Where second best is as good as first, or millionth,” meant to be deep in a Utopian sort of way, but coming off as a bit contrived. The slow, mellow, dub-ish (with bonus screaming) sound of “We Walk Through Walls” sounds fairly incongruous in the context of the rest of A New Beat From a Dead Heart as well, killing much of the momentum and good will that the rest of the album builds up. Despite the missteps, however, 108 sounds alive and ready to take on the world once more—A New Beat From a Dead Heart is as decent a restart as one could expect from a band that’s been gone so long.
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