Friday, January 20, 2012

Unbroken - Life. Love. Regret. (Classic of the Week)

Ok, ok, I know. If you've met me in real life you're probably saying "Geeh, Tom, could you be more obvious?". It's true, far be it from me to go the predicted route, but today I was feeling sentimental. Perhaps it was that Christmas of 1995 when I asked my Mom for an Unbroken shirt; and to my surprise she went to local record store, looked through the racks and found a sweet, size large, black "life. life. regret." t-shirt that I wore to death for the next 4 years. Or, perhaps it's that this record still sounds amazing to me.

When this record first touched my ears I was 16 years old. I was on that border between my self-absorbed teenage years and the maturity to recognize the mess of staggering, unimportant superficiality I dealt with on a daily basis. Lyrically this record covered everything I was thinking and feeling at the time. From a point of view I actually split this record into two lyrical spectrums. The first being a very straight forward, but articulate ride through the emotional turmoil associated with loss, whether that be in a relationship sense or recognizing the finality of death. The second being a lyrical manifestation of the 1993 film "Swing Kids" which is set in a post World War II Germany about a group a teenagers finding rebellion through swing music. There was truth in both spectrums. These songs spoke to me in a way that weren't pretending to offer solutions, but just merely acknowledged the mess and confusion associated with these feelings.

Musically, Unbroken was like mixing Metallica and Sonic Youth and getting a traditional hardcore vocalist to provide the a throaty, but coherent, scream. The guitars are high gain and provide all the ingredients of great metal-influenced hardcore (dual harmonies, chugs, pinch harmonics), but there's a noisy feedback behind it all that creates a rawness to this. This is all complimented with distorted bass and choppy drums that aren't always super tight, but have just enough urgency to convey what the songs need. Being a huge fan of noisy, alternative rock in my teens, I think this record made my transition into metal-influenced hardcore a lot easier. This would lead me to find bands like Channel, Jihad, Converge and others.

From the first slamming note of "D4" to the final feedback-induced jam of "Blanket" this record presents some of the best hardcore ever captured on tape. The honesty is in the lyrics, yes, but also in the way the tracks were put to tape. The musicianship here doesn't seem to be concerned with the precision of each note, but seems to take the mode of improvisation to capture the moment in time.

Check it out here.