Death Before Dishonor - Better Ways To Die
Record Label: Bridge Nine
Release Date: July 28, 2009
People have been saying for a few years now that the punk and hardcore scene is dying. I am not so sure I disagree, but due to this I find the name to the most recent release by Boston’s Death Before Dishonor quite ironic. Better Ways to Die is the 3rd release by the band and it shows them growing on their previous sound while still staying true to what they are about.
Death Before Dishonor really broke out with their 2007 release Count Me In. Along with being true to hardcore love the album also showed them trying to mix the brutal punk beat with a more groove of rhythmic screams and breakdowns. While the album was a success for the band the tracks at times seemed o force this marriage. With Better Ways to Die this sound seems to flow together very well and there are some other sounds that may surprise brought in as the band has grown.
To start off the guys throw in a surprise of thrash guitar as they go full speed into “Peace and Quiet” which sounds like anything but it’s name. Keeping true to their punk pace the track is only 1;15 almost making it more an intro than a track. While the opener is very much a full throttle hardcore brute, it does foreshadow what is to be expected with a slowed down groove a little past halfway. The next track “Remember” opens with a dark and heavy guitar riff that shows slower pace, but that quickly jumps ship into more of the punk beat earnestness. The vocals are harsh and fast in retrospective lyrics, but there are also underlying whoa’s that give a nice tilt from generic norm. The track also has group vocals that I always love to find in my hardcore library. Next track follows suit as the boys bring violent, loud and fast hardcore with occasional beaks of groove here and there.
This carries on for next few tracks of generic straight forward hardcore thrash mixed with grooving and metal riffing. The title track eventually breaks through and what starts to be a monotonous hardcore album gets new fire. The lyrics almost sound as though they know the album was starting to blur together as Bryan Harris yells “I’ve got better things to fight for and better ways to die” though the truth is this a track viewing on wars of our world. The track has a mix of it all and flows perfectly through a sea of changing speed and sound while staying very much a great hardcore track. Next is an anthem for touring in “So Far From Home”. The track is easier on the ears with less of the thrashing speed as it goes through the highs and lows that come from touring. With a great groove and chances to sing along even the least hardcore fan should enjoy this one. It has a feel that makes me think of Stretch Arm Strong.
The sound continues with occasional surprise guitar and constant devastating drums through this thrash groove hardcore album (I think I just found a new subgenre). “No More Lies” brings the band’s in your face lyrics to what may be the weakest track of the 2nd half of this album, but it has those great gang vocals near the end and overall is still a good one. “Bloodlust” comes next with great speed and riff to open. The track throws another tilt around the 1:10 mark with a short and oh so sweet guitar solo that down drives into grooving vocals over more whoa’s. I can hear what sounds like a CBK influence in this one. Ending is “Our Glory Days” that is as retrospective as it sounds encompassing all the dominant trends of the album in one dynamite blistering track. The band does get some help in vocals with a guest appearance from Mark Civitares of The Unseen.
Death Before Dishonor has surely made themselves known and with Better Ways To Die they step out into new light. Overall the album is a better selection in a genre spotted with too many generic and mediocre albums. If only they could have kept the music strong throughout, but the middle first tracks do muddle together some complacency in comparison to the rest that makes the me wish they had either waited and tried writing more of the high light sounds or just put out one splendid EP. The lyrics are not the most groundbreaking either, but hardcore is not too often known in that regard. With that said, it can be hard to find a hardcore album that does not have any let down or tracks running together and while this one does that it also has some great tracks and shows how to branch out and form one’s own sound in this genre. The scene may very well be dying, but these Boston boys are not going out without a loud and violent fight that in the end could make them one of the few bands left standing.