I don’t claim to be an expert or an aficionado of modern-day hardcore music, though I do buy a few hardcore records a year and can appreciate a good hardcore band when I hear it. That’s why I’m troubled over my feelings with this Das Oath record. This band has essentially been labeled the savior of hardcore, heralded by the indie media and hipster illuminati alike. But me, I just don’t see it. Maybe it’s because I stopped following hardcore when I was around seventeen, but Das Oath doesn’t sound much different than half of the generic bands I used to love circa `96. Oh well, on with the flogging!
Their self-titled debut starts off the same way it ends, sounding like a mix of various shout-along NYC hardcore bands a la Agnostic Front or Sick Of It All, mixed with SoCal hardcore like The Locust. Now don’t get me wrong, I know these guys have roots in seminal hardcore bands like Charles Bronson and Devoid of Faith, but this stuff just sounds boring as all hell. The first track blends right into the pit inducing intro of the second song, setting the stage for what your going to get for the remaining fourteen tracks: short blasts of tough guy sounding tunes that blend one into another, each indistinguishable from the last. Oh joy. You guys played in bands like this years ago, I mean what about progression fellas? Playing the same music but with better production quality doesn’t cut it in my book. Singer Mark McCoy also sings for the awesome band Holy Molar, a side project consisting of various hardcore luminaries, yet on this release his vocals just don’t cut it.
Now not all is lost. If there were a function in iTunes to turn off the vocals I could certainly find some redeemable moments on this record. To their credit, the musicians of Das Oath, not counting the singer, do lay down some interesting rhythms and guitar sounds. This is definitely something not too common in most hardcore. Check the tracks “Blood Oranges” and “A Biggot is a Spic” for some non-traditional hardcore riffage. Along these same lines, it pains me to say that the most redeeming album track is the “hidden song,” found three minutes after the end of the last track. Here the band does some pretty inventive and interesting psychedelic noise type stuff that is, most importantly, sans vocals. Hell you could probably even put McCoy on the track and come up with something good as long as he wasn’t getting too mosh core on us. That’s the direction I’d recommend. C’mon boys, I know you can do it!
If you’re a kid who goes to hardcore shows more than twice a week and lives and breathes this shit, then this Das Oath record probably makes your top five list for the year. If you dont like hardcore, well then piss off because you didn’t even read this far. And for everyone else, well, you’ve heard this stuff before, just under a thousand different names.
Agnostic Front – Last Warning
Daughters – Canada Songs
Holy Molar – The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth