Album Review: Expire - 'Pendulum Swings'

4 June 2012 | 11:26 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Bridge Nine's rawest release in years.

Having released their demo in 2009 and a solid debut EP, “Grim Rhythm”, the following year, Expire quickly solidified their name as amongst the best in hardcore of America’s Midwest. After putting out their second 7” last year, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin four piece were promptly added to the ever-better Bridge Nine Records roster and even garnered a mention on the Alternative Press “100 bands you need to know in 2012” list. Unlike the bulk of releases by their B9 label mates which tend to be stylish, polished hardcore albums, “Pendulum Swings” remains 100% true to the gritty, unrefined appeal of Expire’s earlier material. Mastered by the prolific Jay Maas (Defeater, Cruel Hand) and with a median song length of about a minute forty, the band’s full-length debut delivers twelve swift blows of aggressive, in your face hardcore.

Avoiding the straight-up NYHC style that’s in vogue in American hardcore at the moment, Expire combine the thrashiness and vocal intensity of Outbreak or early Trash Talk with a groove and unrelenting toughness reminiscent of “Stay Cold” era Trapped Under Ice. “Pendulum Swings” is intense from the get go with the hard-hitting “Just Fine”, one of the album’s best tracks. The fast, punchy style delivered on previous offerings is still here, with faster, thrashier moments happening particularly on songs like “Dig Deep” and “Pills”. All the while this is blended smoothly with super hard riffs and solid mosh parts. “Reputation” opens with one of the heaviest, head-bangin’est riffs on the LP, while the slamming, aggressive “Bark” follows the same tenor. One of the tracks released ahead of the album’s release date, “Abyss” boasts a totally satisfying, chugging breakdown. Redux versions of “Sleep Lost” and “Focus”, which appeared on the Six Feet Under released “Suffer The Cycle” 7", also make the cut on “Pendulum Swings”. Although there’s not a huge difference between either version of both songs, these tracks are still some of the best their catalogue has to offer. “Sleep Lost” in some ways seems to lack the intensity of its previous recording, while “Focus” ironically feels more like a perfectly executed demo track than ever.

“Pendulum Swings” is an extremely enjoyable record for both those who like their hardcore fast and angry, as well as those who like it on the tough and heavy side. No frills production is in keeping with their first two EPs, which is definitely a good thing. Expire don’t present anything hugely original but hey, who does in hardcore in 2012? All up a pretty refreshing dose of high intensity hardcore nonetheless.

1. Just Fine
2. Reputation
3. Spit Out
4. Dig Deep
5. Anxiety
6. Abyss
7. Bark
8. Sleep Lost
9. Pills
10. YDN
11. Focus
12. Pendulum Swings