Better Ways to Die

Bridge Nine
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Peace And Quiet
02. Remember
03. Coffin Nail
04. Fuck This Year
05. Boys In Blue
06. Better Ways To Die
07. So Far From Home
08. Black Cloud
09. No More Lies
10. Bloodlust
11. Our Glory Days

One of the best hardcore albums I've heard this year, "Better Ways to Die" is DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR's coming of age. It is violent, well written and memorable, and performed with extreme confidence and the kind of fiery passion that comes when the topics explored are true-to-life and personal. As far as hardcore albums are concerned, "Better Ways to Die" is about as good as it gets.

The most impressive part of "Better Ways to Die" is how high the Boston boys have raised their songwriting game. The songs stick to the ribs and the delivery is as ferocious as a charging rhino, except for maybe the shockingly melodic "Remember" with its tuneful backing vocals and lightly picked guitar parts. Even here, Bryan Harris is no crooner; he's a big, bad ass barker that can handle any pattern you throw at him. His rant against the cops that wrongfully arrested and abused his brother in "Boys in Blue" is as venomous as it is penetrating.

As for the satisfying songwriting, "Better Ways to Die" could serve as a blueprint for how to take a hardcore formula and work within it to create variety from track to track, whether that includes sprinkling a little metal here (e.g. the thrashy riffs and hot soloing of "Bloodlust") or putting a little extra punk emphasis there (e.g. "Our Glory Days", on which Harris trades lead vocals with Mark Unseen). Even the gang shouts are perfectly placed.

That's not all though. If you live for the adrenaline-soaked and working class street toughness of everyone from AGNOSTIC FRONT to SICK OF IT ALL to the DROPKICK MURPHYS, "Better Ways to Die" brings it by the truckload. Beyond the riotous speed of "Peace and Quiet", "No More Lies" (where "Fuck You!" never sounded so contemptuous) or "Black Cloud", it is the changeups and breakdowns that grab you by the short hairs and drag you into the pit. "Fuck This Year" is the absolutely quintessential case in point. It is jammed packed with spine-snapping shifts and riff s to die for. While I'm at it, a song about the horrors of drug addiction called "Coffin Nail" features one hell of a bruising groove-riff.

Let the hardcore purists and the nostalgia-blinded dissect "Better Ways to Die" in as many sections as they'd like in order to discover their version of the truth. The rest of us will be happy to rage along to "Better Ways to Die", a damn fine hardcore album devoid of all the bullshit that has permeated the genre since the 80s. Thanks, I needed that,

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