PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Hot Cross: Risk Revival

If Hot Cross have not totally reinvented the essence of underground punk on Risk Revival, they at least give it a reassuring rush.


Hot Cross

Risk Revival

Label: Equal Vision
US Release Date: 2007-02-20
UK Release Date: 2007-03-05
Amazon
iTunes

If Hot Cross have not totally reinvented the essence of underground punk on Risk Revival, they at least give it a reassuring rush, with juvenile energy and certainly more than the traditional three chords. Emerging from Philadelphia, the band -- actually a supergroup of sorts -- create and maintain mayhem broad enough to be classified as "art-punk", and how weird is that? Greg Drudy's drumwork forms the music's meticulous and all-enclosing foundation, guitarist Casey Boland is ever reliable with high-on-the-neck licks, and inger Billy Werner infuses his voice-splitting shouts with a sense of urgency.

They still straddle the essence of pissed-off young men; the lyrics are abrasive enough to hurt, the music strikes hard and fast, and the whole thing is wrapped up in somewhat shyer -- but still very much there -- gruff, climactic melodies. The disc is cluttered enough to initially sound repetitive and even hostile -- but with a few listens its energetic charm draws you in. There's plenty on Risk Revival to establish them as a force to be reckoned with: opening number "Exits and Trails" even has a fantastically deceptive Spanish folk intro played on acoustic guitars -- and it's only their second long-player together!

Rapid, twiddly riffs that will probably be difficult to replicate live usher in target after target, fitting up the best songs with rousing chants like "Behold the Youth!", or "I never meant to . . . Burn!", or "You're killing meee!". And just because Risk Revival is, after all, true to form, "Cardiac Silence" is surely the zenith of that formula. It really zips along at a rabid pace, even dipping into something that can only be described as a "breakdown", hook included -- "Giving up, / Giving in, / Slipping up on trying once again".

Don't mistake it -- a lot of the music here is pure, stirred-up energy at breaking point, but there are moments of softer energy in the set, including a percussion-based instrumental called "Resent Resist Rebuild" which leads into "Fire the Foundations". Punk fans will cry sell-out here (it's in plain view placed as track three) . . . plus the record is dangerously well-produced . . . but then again, there's not a band that doesn't verge on self-parody when they play exactly the same old tune over and over again. "Silence is Failure" is the best Taking Back Sunday tune never written, an under-three-minute nugget full of chugging guitars and call-and-answer vocals.

"Finance Fuels the Sickness at Heart" is deeply passionate for a song of its kind, built off a particularly tight and impressive rumbling bassline, proving Hot Cross still have what it takes to roll out more potential than what's readily apparent at face value. The chorus, spat with bitterness:

Pay our way, /

We reach back for something to break a fall, /

Pay our way, /

We've been fucked from the start, /

Caught unaware that finance fuels the sickness at heart.”

It should have closed the curtain, though. "Blame Truth" is a two-minute faux-Minor Threat jam which has a raw demo feel to it but is ultimately unnecessary, and “Scrape Wisdom” occupies five minutes (about a minute above the band's optimum running time), never quite settling into a mold.

Risk Revival is frighteningly good at what it does: bringing anthems of rebellion to new audiences while finding a sharp, untempered medium to do it. Just two albums in, Hot Cross' sawtoothed assault has found its peak. "I'm all but unraveled", Werner exclaims on "Finance Fuels the Sickness at Heart", "Despondent and sick". Unraveled indeed.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.