Boston has consistently produced some of the most interesting hardcore bands of the past two decades. Slapshot are no exception and Sudden Death Overtime provides a flawless example of everything that was great about the early hardcore scene in Boston. Depending on how old you are, this record along with the other Slapshot releases from this era represent either the last violent gasp of a dying scene or seminal roots music for the hundred or so subgenres which hardcore eventually spawned over the next decade. Slapshot was created from the ashes of the first generation Boston hardcore pioneers Negative FX. At the time, they represented a throwback to the aggressive, violent, minimalist punk rock which the founding members felt had been abandoned by their trendier peers in the hardcore scene. That aggression and fury translated perfectly in the recording of this album, a hostile, seething, and violent fuck you to everyone in the scene and to society in general.
Ironically even though Slapshot were viewed as the knuckle draggers of the eighties hardcore scene, their obsession with metal guitars and mosh riffs would be far more influential on the next generation of hardcore than anything their peers were up to at the same time. The production values on this album are uncommonly good for an early hardcore band and this is one of the best sounding albums released in the genre. The guitar tone is fucking brutal, laying down some of the hardest mosh riffs ever recorded (i.e. Firewalker, Something To Prove) with a sense of rythym and timing that builds perfectly off the dynamics of the bass and drums. There is the occasional unfortunate guitar solo, but this can largely be forgiven as a product of the times and of the guitar player's obsession with metal. From what I understand, this band goes through bass players and drummers like a crackhead goes through a welfare check. They should have stuck with whoever played bass on this album. The guy is on point in every single song and it's clear from the way the rhythms are structured that a good deal of the best riffs were built from the bass. The furious fucking breakdowns in songs like Nation Of Hate and Chip On My Shoulder are pure bass and drum.
As a vocalist, Jack Kelly sounds like an early precursor to some of the later Oi inspired hardcore bands like Skarhead and Blood For Blood. Both his lyrics and his vocal delivery are hostile and openly antagonistic. He sounds like a guy who would just as soon fuck you up as look at you. But Slapshot's lyrical creativity and intelligence gives them away as being far more than ignorant thugs. They are definitely pissed off and violent, but more often than not they have good reasons for feeling that way. The lyrics are surprisingly clever and insightful, outlining the band's thoughts on a variety of social problems like drugs, suicide, racism, aids, and even televangelsits. A lot of the songs are specifically directed at the regional rivalries, factionalism, and sellout mentality that Slapshot feels were responsible fucking up the hardcore scene. The best of these songs is the very entertaining and frequently hilarious condemnation of fake hardcore, Punk's Dead, You're Next. Also worth checking out for laughs is their straightedge revision of Jefferson Airplane's stoner hippie anthem White Rabbit which stays surprisingly close to the original despite changing all the lyrics. Fucking classic. The two live songs at the end are worth noting as well if for no other reason than that the "audience" is simply the voices of the band overdubbed onto the tracks and cheering for themselves playing in the studio. To their credit it actually does sound like a live show. This album is entertaining from start to finish, and for the most part it is flawless for an eighties hardcore band. Everyone who has more than a passing interest in hardcore should do themselves a favor and pick up a copy of this record as soon as possible.* * * * * Reviewed: May, 2003