August 12, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

When properly composed and executed in the right setting, hardcore can be an exhilarating, life-affirming type of music. The speed, aggression, heaviness and reckless abandon with which it’s usually played are very amenable characteristics for a confused kid sorely in need of a socially acceptable, or at least legal, way of channeling their inner anger into something positive. Many detractors see that channeling through a cracked lens, one smudged with with dirty fingerprints of unnecessary violence, innate negativity and misogynistic macho bullshit. That stuff does exist in the hardcore scene, but it also exists in the punk scene, the metal scene, the radio rock scene, and just about every other genre of music that prominently features electric guitars. Why stereotypes seems to exist more freely in hardcore is anyone’s guess; the name itself is a catchall for a wide swath of bands with divergent sounds, ideas and ideals. To use a glaringly dumb example, both Minor Threat and Madball are hardcore bands, but few with functioning ears would ever confuse one for the other. 

One thing that hardcore largely lacks, however, is accessibility, mostly because hardcore musicians aren’t considered with being accessible, and they shouldn’t necessarily be concerned, but it’s an undisputed aberration. For just about every other subgenre of rock music, there’s at least an element present to potentially rope in the casual listener, whether it’s the huge hooks and predictable structure that permeate thorough most “radio-friendly” alternative, the booming riffs and breakneck guitar solos of metal, or the heightened tempo and unique guitar tones of punk. Hardcore is often somewhere in between, or too much of one or the other, or just completely by the wayside in its approach. It’s music for hardcore kids and few others.

Except that isn’t really the case with Angel Du$t. Their new album A.D. has a little something for everyone: Though it probably channels 1980s NYHC more than any other subgenre, it has the speed and guitar tones of a SoCal skatepunk record—Justice Tripp, late of definite hardcore band Trapped Under Ice, at times sounds achingly close to Pennywise frontman Jim Lindbergh. Plenty of the material on A.D. is fruitfully melodic and catchy; “Take My Love” and “Squeeze,” which anchor the album’s midsection, spiritedly plod along at a pace that would be considered glacial for most hardcore bands. “Pacify Me” and “Big One” are catchy enough to dominate radio charts everywhere—if only that hook were just a little longer, some slimy A&R rep would inevitably say. “Let it Rot” and “Stepping Stone” are bouncily aggressive, traditionally mosh-ready anthems.

Oh by the way: A.D. is 14 minutes long.

The songs are strong enough on their own, but A.D.’s brevity makes it eminently replayable, and augment its different moods and tempos, turning the record even more make it so breathlessly fun and unpredictable. It’s a completely brilliant record that never takes itself too seriously or fixates on a singular idea or narrative too long to become needlessly heavy-handed like some hardcore tends to be.