When The Smoke Clears by Sick Of It All

Release date: November 4, 2016
Label: Century Media Records

This year NYHC legends Sick Of It All celebrated their thirtieth anniversary as a band, that’s thirty years of blood, sweat, no tears, classic albums and countless chaotic live shows. In celebration of this occasion the band have recorded an EP of new material, which is accompanied by a coffee table style book chronicling the band’s history with tributes to the hardcore mainstays from bands such as a Gorilla Biscuits, Refused and Hot Water Music, which shows the wide range the band have over many forms of punk and hardcore music.

Undoubtedly this would be worth purchasing on its own, the story of Sick Of It All from their beginnings in Queen, NY to becoming legends of hardcore in their own right and travelling around the world spreading the hardcore reality is an inspiring story that deserves to be told and the fact that there is an EP’s worth of new material too is the icing on the cake.

When The Smoke Clears kicks off with the stomp of the title track and as Lou Koller’s familiar vocals erupt it is clear that, even after thirty years, Sick Of It All are still as passionate as ever and this carries on all through the EP. ‘Black Venom’ shows off that classic Sick Of It All groove with Craig Ahead and Armand Majidi showing why they are the best rhythm section in hardcore as they power the song. This along with some crunching Pete Koller riffs equals Sick If It All at their best and the song’s mid-paced ending ends things on a heavy high.

‘Doomed Campaign’ starts with a pulsating bass line before the energy levels explode and a catchy singalong vibe, perfect for a live show, comes into play and the whole song is a raucous call to arms with a defiant NYHC swagger. ‘Blood & Steel’ powers along with a vigour that could come straight from 1986 and ‘Fortress’ closes this short but very sweet release and it is a song with a well deserved triumphant feel with an anthemic hook and as soon as it ends, you want to start it all over again.

Sick Of It All have never been short of inspiring words in their songs and there are two sets of lyrics in particular on When The Smoke Clears that sum up the bands resilience and spirit. When Lou Koller bellows “We will survive and never give up” on the EP’s title track and the rousing, closing chant of “When your world goes wrong, these walls will never fall” rings out on closing track ‘Fortress’ sum up Sick Of It All and salutes their storied history. The fact that the band are still releasing such vital hardcore after such a time cements even further their place in hardcore lore as one of the best and most consistent to do this.

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