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Review: Old Wounds – The Suffering Spirit

Some of New Jersey’s finest, the hardcore quartet known as Old Wounds, have released their sophomore crusher of an album “The Suffering Spirit”. This album is for those who love punk-inspired metal grooviness that never ceases to rile up the spirit into a state of relentless headbanging. You can buy yourself a copy on their merch store, Amazon, and iTunes, as well as streamed by Spotify.

In all honesty, I’m not even a huge fan of hardcore by any stretch; a lot of it tends to sound like more distorted, reused and recycled punk riffs with an overwhelmingly cheesy/unoriginal drum beat thrown into this cliche cluster of garbage sound. However, there are always exceptions, and Old Wounds is one of them. Besides being from my stomping grounds of New Jersey, these guys have created a really tolerable and beyond enjoyable album that breaks away from the stereotypical annoyance of bad hardcore metal music. The screechy whine of the vocals are intriguing and gut wrenching at the same time, while the instrumentals hit hard in a rather rhythmic and edgy fashion that further helps to distinguish them as a group.

The beginning track, “Rest in Piss”, gives a sampling of every fantastic aspect of their sound. Those high screams are complemented by the ruthless chugging of the guitar with accompanying bass lines of pure evil. I also enjoy the sporadic use of clean vocals (like when he says “We have killed us, we made the bed of snakes, we built this house of shit”). These vocals add a powerful, slightly concerning, and most of all, HEAVY vibe to this song. After a massive breakdown, the song seamlessly transitions by a guitar screech into “Never Sleep Again”. This song embodies a more punk-than-metal sound, where it is a lot faster, more energetic, and just generally more hyperactive than the prior track.

You get some rocking guitar solos and a some slick chord change riffs all the way until the next tune, “Actual Nothing”. “Actual Nothing” contains a more frequent usage of those clean vocals and begins with a melodic and seemingly complex guitar line that appears throughout the piece. However, at only one minute and twelve seconds, I find myself wanting that catchy riff to last just a bit longer. But that’s punk and hardcore for ya: short and forceful, just enough to leave you hooked and listening for a while longer.

“The Secret Song at the Center of the Earth” is a definite favorite of mine from the collection. The band slows the speed down and provides bonecrushing brutality and eeriness that leads to the feeling of physically standing in the center of the Earth.  More chaotic chugging, interesting note progressions, and properly placed bass and drum duets lead into the odd sounds at the end of the piece. It’s a very distinctive sound with a nice degree of catchiness, yet it can become a bit redundant at times.

“Heaven is Memory” is another chaotic fast track with a fair balance of heavy guitar chugs and punk drumming that rips for the grand total of one minute thirty seconds. Short songs are a minor pet peeve of mine.  “Son of No One” stands out as a fantastically brutal piece with a guitar vibe similar to that of older Emmure. Tight, staccato, and abrupt rhythms for the guitar style alternates and contrasts the legato guitar whines that makes a really fun song. I also really enjoy the build-up provided by the drum fills throughout.

“On Leather Wings” is the proceeding track, my absolute favorite from the album. The intro pulls from a vibe very similar to Tool’s “10,000 Days”, but then it rolls along into a doom-inspired verse featuring a healthy amount of cleans and screams. The lyrics themselves are chaotic and doomy as well, which only adds to the immaculate brutality displayed on this track. A nice little bonus is being able to hear a distinct bass line amongst the midst of eerie, groovy heavy music. Gives me a reason to headbang a little bit harder.

“Vampyr” is another high velocity short tune that is the epitome of stereotypical punk, not really that memorable at all. However, it transitions into the well-written riffage of “Moral Hex” with absolute ease. This song slams and grooves in a dark, gritty way like no other on the album, with more prime bass exposure. It changes again to a more melodic sound with a lot of feeling behind it towards the end, like real hard suffering. It is similar in feeling to listening to Make Them Suffer’s newest album, where the music is not particularly “heavy”, but the raw and pure emotion makes the piece feel mind-blowingly brutal in a special way (plus the outro bass notes are so damn tasty).

“Where Flowers Grow” is not particularly interesting, as it envelopes a more metalcore sound that is pretty obnoxious in my eyes. Thankfully, it’s another brief moment of weakness that moves over for “Desecrate” that finishes the album by casting a thick veil of heavy chugging over the ears of anyone listening. The outro music is equal parts scary and neat as well, and it creates a fitting end to this album.

I have a lot more faith in the underground hardcore scene (particularly the New Jersey heavy music scene) after giving “The Suffering Spirit” a thorough and extensive listen. Check these guys out if you like Kublai Khan, Emmure, or really accelerated, thrashy punk music. Also be sure to catch them on tour if they’re in your area, show some Jersey artists some much-deserved respect for this solid album.

Rate: 7.75/10


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