A gruesome inception and a vicious army of fans—that’s all it’s taken hardcore punk to survive twenty years on the underground, much like the two animals battling it out in monochrome on this album’s cover art. Never has that penchant for taking the extreme road faded; Madball urges us to infiltrate the system, Sick of it All brings death to tyrants and Long Island’s Soldiers proclaim the End of Days. Their conviction tears through each snarling slog to the gut. Lead singer Rick Jimenez is barely able to be contained on disc, never tiring of spitting vitriol. The booming bass and crackling snare-drum cut through the fuzz-guitars like a kneejerk, galloping along and accentuating each and every dirty warcry, the outsider mentality dominating such cuts as “Even Worse”, “Sever Ties” and “Decide & Conquer”. This comes to a head on “Nothing More, Nothing Less”, when Jimenez just bitterly screams his heart out for fifty seconds. One could argue it all sounds the same, but that only draws a thick black line under its steamroller tenacity—hardcore as it was and is intended. Soldiers unashamedly have no desire to push that badge, setting up moshpits with each and every primal breakdown, song after song. They do, however, badly damage their street cred by including a bonus hip-hop song on the end of “Smoke & Mirrors”. It’s a closer to End of Days that’s throwing and blatantly inappropriate, a disfigured blotch on an otherwise ferocious and impassioned release.
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