For some reason I find it hard to write a review for a good Hardcore album without a feeling of grand vitriol and a pocket full of clichés and believe me herein “Haymaker” there be fighting music. In fact you could put any track from “Haymaker” in the background to a Tito Ortiz entrance and the scene would be set, I almost feel compelled to break away from this to hurt anybody who “disrespects” me.
In fact THROWDOWN have been treading the sweaty and holy stages of Tito’s Orange County since the late 90’s with the likes of BLEEDING THROUGH and EIGHTEEN VISIONS, the three seemingly endlessly trading members, however it was “Haymaker”, their first album on a notable label in Trustkill that is seen as their real breakout album.
Sounding like an angrier less corporately involved HATEBREED, “Haymaker” comes across as a no nonsense breakdown filled, testosterone pumped behemoth of a hardcore record that really stands out due to a fine mix of perfectly timed musicianship, excellent gravely shouty vocals, uncompromising song writing and well handled production whilst ticking all the boxes of a straight-down-the line Hardcore opus that will get the kids hurting each other in the pit and the adults banging their heads and raising their fists on the periphery.
I would say that there are few albums where the production in particular had impressed me and was as much a part of the music as in “Haymaker”. Produced by Greg Koller (BLEEDING THROUGH and EIGHTEEN VISIONS) and mastered by Gene Grimaldi (JOHNNY CASH, GWAR, NOFX and PENNYWISE amongst many others) my usually deriding attitude towards vocal heavy mixes is turned on its head in no small part to the powerful and vicious delivery of Dave Peters and the spite filled lyrics of honour, pride and general threats he spits out over chunky chugging guitars and meaty kicks, all driven by malevolent and simplistic bass lines that lie subtly at the bottom but still have the power to let you know that your speakers are pumping.
The music in itself is no great shakes, there is little technicality or variety but these boys have mastered the most important aspects of Hardcore, the chugging breakdown and shout along choruses which makes the album so infectious. If I was to pick out my stand out tracks I would have to say the intro “Never Back Down” that fades into double kicks before Dave Peters instructs us all to “Stay true to your convictions” and “take back what is ours” all pumped along by some snazzy riffing and two very moshable breakdowns. “Walk Away” is notable due to the lyrics which provide a nice catharsis and the jumpy drums and kicks. And “You Cant Kill Your Integrity” because of the intro riff that runs through the track in parts and the alternating kicks and a really sweet time change at the end of the track leading into a breakdown which would make even the most passive man want to rip your face off.
If I was to make one slight criticism it would be that the album runs on too long with much of the second half feeling like filler which seems kind of pointless when, in my opinion, Hardcore albums should not really run over the half hour mark as it seems a little over kill. That aside you wont find a better straight edge Hardcore album out there so long as you don’t take too many preconceived notions of variety and experimentation, if you want that listen to something like THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and try to mosh and headbang to it.
(Online May 28, 2007)