The Red Chord, with the Acacia Strain, Premonitions of War, and Between the Buried and Me

Given that the monkey-to-man transformation took millions of years, it's amazing how far hardcore has evolved in the two decades since the Gorilla Biscuits. Like '50s rock, early-'80s hardcore is so building-block basic that many contemporary bands dismiss it as antiquated. Lots of groups salvage some aspects of the classic sound, but they seldom revisit entire vintage song structures. On "Antman" and "Lay the Tarp," the Red Chord breathes new life into old-school-style spoken/shouted vocals and chugging verses like a grease monkey lovingly restoring an old Mustang.

But this isn't a nostalgic novelty act. Surrounding its flashback tracks with power-metal melodies and death gurgles, the Red Chord proves to be equally proficient at thoroughly modern heavy-music variations. The Massachusetts-based band even caps its latest release, Clients, with a dense instrumental epic -- the antithesis of vintage hardcore's bite-size blasts of urgent sloganeering and rudimentary riffs. Regardless of subgenre classification, the band's songs are relentlessly aggressive and technically daunting.

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Andrew Miller