Various Artists – Victory Style, Vol. 4

Various Artists
Victory Style, Vol. 4

Victory Records knows hardcore. It’s just about all the do and have done, and their Victory Style series is evidence of that fact. So here we have their latest edition: 23 hardcore tracks from a relatively diverse group of bands, both well known and obscure in the hardcore community. The problem many fans have with hardcore music is that the driving guitars and screamed vocals all end up sounding the same. But there’s dozens of varieties of hardcore, and we’ve got them all here. Rather than discussing what makes hardcore unique, I’m going to run down most of the songs.
Earth Crisis contribute a grinding but remarkably clean unreleased track that I like, despite its grinding. It sloughs off the grinding guitar for enough of a more typical hardcore sound to keep me interested. Shelter, one of my favorite hardcore bands, toss off some of the mantra-core they made famous for a more punk-focused unreleased song that’s high point is the shouted chorus of “I try, I try, I tryyyy!” Hatebreed’s “Last Breath” has inspired drumming but rather typical structure and growled vocals. Grey Area’s unreleased “Reminder” is the more punk-rock style, catchy and hook-ridden. Integrity 2000’s track is fairly typical screamed rage over metal riffs. Buried Alive at least bring some life to their aggro guitar riffs, even if the “rargh rargh!” vocals do get somewhat old. But then, in sharp contrast, Grade have the unreleased “A Year in the Past” that’s both poppy and punky and fun without losing the energy and enthusiasm. And Snapcase deliver another dose of their precise, clean power, driving and strong.
Electric Frankenstein deliver straight-forward guitar-driven attitude on “My World,” and Shutdown show off their aggressive and excellent NYC hardcore on “The Judged.” Cause For Alarm have some Rage Against the Machine feel on their “Future War,” which has some killer guitar and an almost funk feel to it. Skarhead’s “Kings At Crime” is redundant and tired, but the ska-infused angst and British attitude of Catch 22 brings the energy level back up. Blood for Blood have plenty of attitude in their punk-infused hardcore, including talking right to “all you outcasts out there.” All Out War are the screaming, angry style of hardcore that’s fun but not entirely original. OS101 have one of the best tracks on here, the high-energy, just slightly punk-ish “Six & Sevens.”
Strife’s “Untitled” has some of the highest energy content here, although it leans to the metal side. Still, I can’t help but like this song, perhaps because it slows down and gets very moody and dark. Then there’s a new Boy Sets Fire track, “Rookie.” I love Boy Sets Fire and their blend of catchy hardcore, and this one doesn’t disappoint. With some excellent guitarwork, this one sounds similar to their last EP and predicts good things ahead. The Strike sound like they were heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols, and Warzone are also influenced by early hardcore/punk on their own catchy track. River City Rebels also use the ska horns and ska beat to spice things up a bit, although the song sounds too ska. Reach the Sky are pretty straight-forward hardcore, not too aggressive. And the album finishes with No Innocent Victim doing a very metal, grindy track that doesn’t do much for me.
Victory has got it all down. From the grinding, aggressive sound, to the metal hardcore, to the more straight-forward sound, to the punk-er hardcore, to the more poppy or melodic stuff, it’s all here. Sure, hardcore is all based around driving, aggressive guitars, sung/shouted vocals, high energy, and power. But it’s in the subtle variances that fans focus. They’re all here on this compilation, in their similarities and differences.