No band has quite summarized the unusual trajectories and creative tweaks of hardcore more than 108. Though they were an extension of Ray Cappo’s youthful indiscretion that was “Krishna” core, they went above and beyond Cappo’s structured grandstanding and actually exuded some passion. Their efforts resulted in making Krishna consciousness a little more than an annoyance at airports—even if it was very brief—and the bridging of strict old school hardcore with the blistering metallic tinge of modern hardcore.
108’s journey is as interesting as it could possibly get for fresh-faced punks looking to break the mold and find meaning in what they were doing. According to guitarist and then-chief songwriter Vic Dicara, it didn’t end well. Now that he’s broken with all things Krishna and embraced Hinduism, Dicara is singing a tune slightly different, a tune that’s more democratic.
Dicara has not slowed down or gone sloppy in keeping his obvious talent as a structured but passionate guitarist and songwriter. Rob Fish likewise compliments Dicara as he did when they were active. A New Beat From a Dead Heart rages like 108 always has, which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse for the album. It’s no small observation that in the wake of their dissolution many of the bands they’ve influenced/toured with (namely Coalesce) have pushed the envelope well beyond 108’s artistic range. Therefore, 108’s own creative spark seems a bit stifled. However, now that hardcore can afford to consider aesthetics, Kurt Ballou provides a proper production that has consistently served to emphasize the muscle and the emotional rawness that most bands before that were not budgeted for.
Lyrically, the band is taking a different route. Instead of spreading the Krishna message through esoteric lyricism, the band clears the air a bit to inform the hooded masses of the dangers of dogma. It’s not as refined as Christopher Hitchens, but it gets the point across with desperate immediacy sincere concern. Of course the Hitch might not have any qualms with “Bibles + Guns= the American Dream.”
With the support of at least half of Converge, 108’s reunion is hardly a flake, and it’s not their fault that nostalgia is so ingrained in the genre. It’s no disadvantage anyway as Dicara’s guitar skills need more due credit. Maybe for a little compare and contrast 108 and the also reunited (again, but this time with their original—not to mention awesome—guitarist) Coalesce could play a few shows again and see how they stack up against the mosh-friendly others. The results would hardly surprise.
Inside Out – No Spiritual Surrender
Snapcase – Designs For Automotion
Fucked Up – Hidden World