I guess it really doesn’t matter what you call this stuff anymore, does it? I could tell you it’s hardcore, or indie-rock, or post-hardcore, or shriek-core, or whatever, but all that really tells you is that there’s probably lots of loud guitars, hyperspeed drums, and a singer who yells or yelps as much as he/she sings—i.e., nothing particularly substantial. I mean, if you can’t tell that this is a loud, fast, violent album just from the name of the band and the cover art, you desperately need to hang out in more indie record stores. The lines are so blurred these days that terms like “hardcore” or “post-hardcore” are only useful to music critics like yours truly.
What the above all means is that, well, despite the declaration in the liner notes that this is “NYC DIY hardcore,” this isn’t your average bunch of NYcore thrash-metal heads. It’s plenty loud, sure, but It a Weapon is much more in the vein of stuff like Sweden’s Refused, Harriet The Spy, or maybe the Dillinger Escape Plan, melding chaotic noise, Fugazi-style song structures, decidely non-anthemic scream-along choruses, and severe sociopolitical critiques. The one nod here to the scenesters (and one of the tracks closest to traditional hardcore) is “Some Guys,” a decent little rant about posers in the scene; the rest is a little off the beaten path, so to speak.
To hit a few high points: first there’s opener “This Guitar Screams ‘Been There, Done That,’” which comes pretty damn close to living up to it’s title and starts the CD off with a brilliant burn; “Adobe,” a bitter anti-love (I think?) song with a strangely catchy, almost defiant chorus that reminds me a heck of lot of Avail’s Over the James; the awesomely noisy “Wonderful, Gorgeous,” which happens to be one of the few songs I’ve heard where the feedback is almost as important as the actual guitar; and the lo-fi instrumentals “Books Lie” and “Only One T,” neither of which sound like nothing I’ve ever heard on a punk album (but both of which make me think weirdly of Space Needle).
What else can I say? Good, loud, raw rock, the kind that’s criminally under-represented in modern music. This is not your little brother’s hardcore—well, okay, it might be, but if that’s the case I’d keep an eye on the little guy, ‘cause there’s no telling what he’s up to.