1. New Forms
3. Turn The Knife
4. Sense Walker
5. The Pain Enclosed
6. Blind To Trust
7. Forced Order
10. Seven Realms Of Fear
12. March Of The Diseased
To those un-initiated with heavy music, the various genres and their respective cultures often become a singular caricature for subjectivities and assumptions. Even for those initiated within these cultures, an inability or unwillingness to explore new sounds, their origins and cultural significance can lead to the very same phenomenon. A mainstream listener may define all heavy music as "screamo" just as a straight-laced technical death metal fan may view youth crew as a boring sub-genre, with unsophisticated instrumentation and one too many shirts. These assumptions affect the quality of one's listening experience and the accuracy of one's musical judgment in the manner that bands, styles, rhythms, riffs and eras lose or gain quality as one's service in a respective genre grows. My time in hardcore has revealed the genre to be an extremely complex one that is too often simplified. Its styles vary by genre, sub-genre, decade, state and ideology and the search for a rare demo, recorded live performance and bit of hardcore lore for higher understanding never seems to end.
The barely coherent string of words above is somewhat significant to this review. Vanished Crusade is the debut LP of Forced Order, a Southern California metallic hardcore group that take the Cleveland Hardcore sound as originated by 90s groups such as Confront, Integrity, In Cold Blood and Ringworm and strain it through their own California filter. One major factor into the enjoyment of Vanished Crusade will depend on that fact, whether you love the Cleveland sound and its revival or whether you hate it. Another factor will depend on what the band does with its respective stylistic confines in song structure, instrumentation, writing, breakdown placement, break-off from tradition and performance.
While appreciation of the former will differ among listeners, the latter is executed with optimal mosh capacity on the record. Helmed by experienced members of a variety of California heavy hitters (Harness, Enough Said, Soul Search, Twitching Tongues and so on...) and supported again by production of The Pit Studios, Vanished Crusade boasts some of the finest metallic hardcore riffs and breakdowns this year through an apocalyptic soundscape that should appeal to all fans of things that chug and boom. Strong song structure, open arms to the "insert a mosh part wherever you can" mentality of many records as of late, and frantic transitions lend a frenzied edge to the revived style. The band have also found a surprising newfound sense of groove through the amplified bass antics of Alfredo Gutierrez, whose occasional bass harmonics and wandering parts, now more audible, add a pleasing diversity to the carnage. Gang vocals are placed in the right places for maximal aggression and minimal instrument noise tracks lend a complimentary bleak atmosphere to the metallic riffage.
In many ways, despite misgivings about monotony and originality, I've always enjoyed Forced Order in some fashion. With Vanished Crusade, I find a record wherein enjoyment has turned from appreciation to instinct. It's great not because it appeals to nostalgia or pays tribute to and revives a historic style, it's just well-written hardcore.