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Honkeyball - * * * *

If Hank Williams had ever decided to start a hardcore band, it would probably sound something like Honkeyball. Their unique manic depressive blend of personal pain and American pop culture folklore would fit right in with Williams' self-depreciating alcoholic country music. It might be telling that the last (and best) song on this disc is a live cover an old country song in which Honkeyball proceeds to wreck some anonymous Boston nightclub with their psychotic rendition of classic American music. They pull this song off flawlessly without missing a beat in the transition because in reality the their brand of hardcore isn't that far off from the source material, it just adds an extra level of intensity. Their music will undoubtedly draw comparisons with bands like Scissorfight and Clutch. Fans of both bands would be well advised to pick this album up. They also draw a certain amount of influence from the sluggish, bottom heavy school of hardcore led by southern bands like Crowbar and Bloodlet. The singer builds up a lot of tension by singing off key in an unstable sounding voice before unleashing with a hardcore bellow that will blow your speakers out. This is Honkeyball's ace in the hole, they know how to build tension and release at the precise moment where it makes the music most effective. By the sound of this disc, it's obvious right from the start that they are a great live band. The album lags a bit toward the middle simply because there are no real standout songs. Honkeyball is a consistently good hardcore band, but their evenness in this regard takes away from the unpredictable nature of this kind of music. You can't really fault them for that but they could have cut a few songs from the disc without making much of a difference. Their music is unique and interesting, and it has a sense of intense conviction and attention to detail that most bands this heavy are lacking. Boston has been home to some damn fine hardcore bands in the past few years, and judging by this, things are just going to keep getting more interesting.

* * * *

Reviewed: January, 2003

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