Arms Race: NWOBHC 12"

Painkiller Records


ARMS RACE unleash their debut album after a well-received 6-track demo in 2013 and a 6-track 7" EP in 2014 on Quality Control HQ and Painkiller. Arms Race arrived on the scene fully formed with their powerful and gnarly UK-meets-USA hardcore: their signature sound of a vocalist chewing on glass is backed by one of the most solid rhythm sections in HC these days, and the guitar work adds a metallic element making the whole sound gigantic while keeping the ugliness and aggression to the max. NWOBHC is a statement of no-frills hardcore that is not scared to reach out to different corners of the punk and metal world.

Our take: I have to admit, I had a little bit of trouble wrapping my head around Arms Race's first 7", and that feeling carried over to my first several listens to this LP. I suppose that I was listening for something that wasn't there... knowing that the band takes an equal amount of influence from the hardcore and oi! scenes, I suppose that I was looking for them to sound something like the rather polished, Negative Approach-influenced sing-along hardcore of bands like Violent Reaction (with whom Arms Race shares members). However, rather than bringing those hardcore and oi! influences together into an easy-to-digest whole, it's more like Arms Race are digging deep into those influences and pulling out the ugliest parts of them that they can find. The last track on the album is a Nabat cover and I feel like that's a clue, because if you take the tough, primitive sound of early French and Italian oi!, infuse it with the scrappy, chaotic sound of Agnostic Front's first two records, and then add some totally guttural, almost death metal-type vocals over top of it you'll pretty much have Arms Race. And while I doubt it's an influence, I think that there's a comparison to be made between the overall vibe of this LP and the loose, wild, and heavy vibe of the best Repos records. In other words, if you like your hardcore loose, nasty, and immediate this is one you definitely want to hear.
Tags: 10s hardcore nwobhc recommended UK