Or Die Trying – The Nightmare EP

Or Die Trying
The Nightmare EP

I don’t listen to much hardcore anymore. After a while, the hardcore bands making new music began to sound forced, unfeeling, as if screaming was required, not warranted by the emotion of the music, as if the furious guitar playing violent drums were by rote. Barring a few exceptional bands, the louder side of punk and rock began to feel tired, cliché, as if the bands were going through the motions. I was more apt to pull out a 7″ or LP from eight or nine years ago as buy the latest release.
What was lacking from the newer hardcore bands that came my way was the emotion that made emo – back when emo was hardcore, or perhaps the other way around – so appealing to me. And although I’m not saying that Or Die Trying is the greatest new hardcore band I’ve ever heard, they’ve got all the emotion you want to hear. This 17-minute EP feels like the six members were raised on the style of emo that I fell in love with, not the washed-out brand that spawned from Sunny Day Real Estate wanna-bes.
I think it’s the keyboards that give the band their really unique flair. There’s a sense of keyboards and sampling used throughout, not as a prominent feature, but always there, shining most as a kind of restraining element on “Bloody Hands.” Then there’s the singer’s voice, which even while sung sounds desperate, as if his very life depended on belting out the words, as if his hoarse throat would bleed were the words not ripped from them.
The overall theme is darker, more desperate, mining territory covered before but doing it well. “Pocket Knives for Pretty Girls” runs from loud and angry to quieter and moodier, where the singer sings in a kind of whiney voice. The rage on some of these tracks sounds like the relentless teenage angst that rages in us all growing up, especially in moments like the screaming “I’m never coming back to Bay City again” in “Bloody Hands.” There’s a nice mix of singing and screaming throughout the rage-fests of “57” and “Razors Wrists and Pom Poms.”
While it may not be the be-all or end-all, Or Die Trying does a fine job of making emo-core with the desperate edge, the emotional quality I’ve found lacking quite a bit lately. It’s a good job and one that would surely shine with better production and a few more years under their belts.