As a quick note, first, Turnstile kills it live. They recently came through cities opening on the Madball Set It Off 20th Anniversary with Matt Henderson, Death Before Dishonor tour. Even the old geezers which I am friends with were impressed by these energetic kids. Yes, the same, grumpy old hardcore dudes that say, “I don’t listen to new hardcore.” Baltimore’s Turnstile knocked dudes out of their boots.
Turnstile have two prior seven inches out, Pressure to Succeed and Step 2 Rhythm. Now, Reaper Records acts as conduit for Turnstile’s intense new full length. The slot on Madball’s tour is no coincidence. These youths definitely took a note from Matt Henderson’s riff delivery. But this is no facsimile. Other NYHC influences are acting here, from Burn to Agnostic Front.
The opening track has that slow tempo with chugging riffs that have a hip hop feel. But track number two blazes into youth crew hardcore, as one might expect; but, by the middle the retains that signature that same, slower, fist pounding riffage to it. So while there is a checklist of fast parts, mid-tempo stomps and breakdowns, Turnstile turn the whole thing around and incorporate ‘alternative’ aspects to their songs.
“Can’t Deny It” has a straight forward, filtered singing chorus on it. It’s catchy. But, I listen to hardcore for the raw aggression; and to me, this is a RHCP chorus. I still have to give hats off to be something different and something that young kids will appreciate. “Blue By You” uses the same vocal approach for the entire song; muffled and somber, sounding like a catchy 90’s ‘punk’ song. “Love Lasso” is a probably a song I would dig as a quiet interlude from an indie band. But, it sits oddly here for me. Although, I will say the bringing in of an organ is cool. Simply, this approach is just an odd contrast to the intensity of their live show and young hardcore.
Tracks like “Bad Wave” (even with the winding, weird guitar solo) and “Bring It Back”, Turnstile prove they can provide the mosh. “Addicted” sound like a Bad Brains song; even harder than songs on I Against I. If you are familiar with Into Another, Alpha Omega by Cro-Mags, Dog Eat Dog, then you can welcome the varied aspects; not just of influence, but of actual execution. The term hardcore obviously embodies an eclectic array of sounds and rhythms. I won’t dtract from Turnstile’s softer tendencies; but the riffs from the same beat re redundant from track to track. In fact, the alterna-infusion seems to be the variations to forward to.
I would also say, even with this major injection of repeated hip hop rhythms and alternative production, I never feel that these are intentioned to harvest for a ‘broader audience’ a la No Warning. This is an authentic appreciation for the varied styles. I respect and appreciate that, but the execution is just not my cup of tea. Keep It Moving from Step 2 Rhythm had dashes of these singy parts, but Non Stop Feeling pushes the boundaries. Again, though, while the expand on slower, softer impulses, the pith of their sound repertoire seems to be the same chugging riff. There is not much guitar work or song writing here. The experimentation is not an aspect to dismiss, feeling it akin to going from the first two Suicidal Tendencies to “How Will I Laugh…”. Some people believed it was too drastic a departure.
Turnstile bring an exciting energetic live show and enough hardcore chops. But, on record, I wish their song had more variation in the aggressive parts and less fusion with softer, alternative inclinations.
RIYL: Cold World, Twitching Tongues, Trapped Under Ice, Soul Control, Have Heart, Verse, Burn, Dag Nasty, Shelter (Hutch)