Sectorseven – S/T

Whoa. Did I just slip into some sort of time warp? I swear I’ve heard this somewhere before. Didn’t Revelation or Victory Records release this, like, 10 years ago? All the elements are there: the semi-metallic machine gun guitars, the relentless rapid-fire drumming, the signature double-time to half-time transitions, the endless parade of start-stop dynamics. And were those really youth crew yells I heard sounding off to back up the vocals? A decade ago I might have found this recording to be fresh and compelling, but now all I hear is a tired formula that has been beaten to death. Occasionally, some young punk upstarts will crawl out of the woodwork and refashion the formula in their image, setting the hardcore punk world on its collective head in the process. Unfortunately, Sectorseven are not one of those bands.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not that Sectorseven are bad. In fact, the quartet from Ontario, Canada are quite good at what they do, churning out tight and furious hardcore punk with traces of thrash and metal. It’s raw and uncompromising music played with urgency and buckets of energy. Vocalist Jon Gauthier delivers the usual acid-tongued diatribes against peer-pressure, conformity, and betrayal with venomous conviction, his gruff voice and method of phrasing bearing more than a passing resemblance to Henry Rollins. Guitarist Lee Williamson is tireless, laying out thick slabs of high-octane riffs and explosive leads with startling frequency and speed-metal accuracy. For their part, drummer Mike Burke and bassist Brad Parent form a formidable buzz saw of a rhythm section, handling each time change and tempo shift with accomplished skill. Songs like the bruising opener “Commit” and the punishing “Stand Alone” crackle with seething rage and youthful indignation.
In the end, however, too much of Sectorseven’s self-titled release comes off as derivative and imitative. There is no question that the band believes in their message and their music, but so many of the songs sound exactly the same or else are carbon copies of things that have already been done (“962” sounds as if it were torn directly from 1992’s Rollins Band LP, The End of Silence). Nothing distinctive ever takes shape, and, as a whole, the CD suffers from a lack of personality and charisma. This is their third full-length release, but I do not hear Sectorseven leaving a unique stamp on this music. There is plenty of direction and enthusiasm, but it’s all headed to the same place. There are no detours, no pauses for reflection. It’s all straight ahead, full speed, right on to the very end, which wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t know exactly where this was headed. Sorry, Sectorseven, but I’ve been down this road too many times already.