As Friends Rust – The Fists of Time

As Friends Rust
The Fists of Time

I could tell you one single fact about this band and you could probably guess what this band sounds like (to varying degrees of accuracy). You want it? As Friends Rust is from Gainesville, Florida. There. Done. End of review.
Well, perhaps to be fair, I should say at least a little bit more about As Friends Rust and their new EP for Doghouse, The Fists of Time. And as much as I’d like to do this whole review without mentioning the OTHER Gainesville band, Hot Water Music, that’s just not gonna happen. So here goes nothing.
Lately, Gainesville has been sort of a hotbed for “melodic-hardcore.” Not only is it the nesting place of the seminal hot water boys, its also the hometown of No Idea records, which houses excellent acts such as (from my state, MI) Small Brown Bike. Newest to the club of emotional hardcore is As Friends Rust. Prior to The Fists of Time – which features songs taken from earlier releases by the band, including their split 7″ with Discount – the band released another EP for Doghouse, as well as a few releases for some label in Belgium. Apparently, the band has garnered quite a following overseas. And since similar bands are building followings in the states as well, As Friends Rust are poised to help its peers hold up the “hardcore” part of “emotional hardcore.”
The first thing you notice about As Friends rust is that they’re much more polished than Hot Water Music has ever claimed to be. The five-piece band has a lead singer, as well one or two screaming background vocalists. All of the vocals, including the screams, are recorded extremely well. Sometimes you can even tell what the band is singing about without resorting to the lyric sheet. The guitar parts tend to lean more towards straight-up punk, with less complicated arrangements and more palm-muted riffing.
The first song is the absurdly titled “The First Song on the Tape You Make Her.” Since when did emo bands start writing songs with silly mix-tapes in mind instead of just writing music that ends up on the mix-tapes? The lyrics certainly fulfill the not-so-tall order given by the title, with lines like “This is the best way I can tell you/You look like love!” Whether or not you can get lyrics like that, you can’t argue with the music. It propels itself forward, often slowing before exploding again, with definite hardcore leanings.
Most of the songs follow the formula given above, though a couple do stand out. “Ruffian” contains enough stops and starts to keep things interesting and unique, and the lyrics rarely stray into the aforementioned sappiness. “Broken Brain” finds the singer letting his voice soar a little, right before the backup vocals rip it to shreds once again. The last song on this seven-song release is a cover of the Circle Jerk’s “Operation.” It’s not bad, but until I read the liner notes I hadn’t even realized that they were playing another band’s song.
There probably hasn’t ever been a band to take the “emotional hardcore” tag as literally as As Friends Rust take it. The music is (most of the time) decidedly hardcore, and the lyrics are trying their damnedest to be emotional. Kind of imagine what the Promise Ring would sound like (that is, the Promise Ring with better vocals) if they were channeled through, yes, Hot Water Music. As Friends Rust certainly have the talent and songs to jump to the head of the Hot Water class. Whether or not you’re taking that course is completely up to you.