Modern Life Is War – Midnight In America
Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Record Label: Equal Vision Records
Who says the hardcore scene is dead? With experimentation becoming the mehod by which many bands try to distinguish themselves in the genre, Modern Life Is War are taking a different tactic to set themselves apart: making a genuinely good record. Midnight In America doesn’t open any new doors to the style of music. Instead it takes the building blocks of heavy music and expands upon those ideals, making something not necessarily wholly original, but intensely enjoyable.
On their third full length (and debut release for Equal Vision), Modern Life Is War has continued the evolution of their sound proving that songs do not have to be over-the-top fast to be heavy as hell. As with the band’s past records, the slowed down pace contributes to what makes Modern Life Is War have their own signature sound, which has stood the test of time since their inception. With a huge following and all the hype surrounding Midnight In America, does the band succeed in delivering the album hardcore fans so desperately want? Simply put, yes. Modern Life Is War have taken the formula that garnered them praise from fans and critics alike and channeled it into an album that is just as exciting as it is ferocious and relevant. The album bursts from the starting gate with “Useless Generation”, a barnburner of a track in which every snare roll and syncopated rhythm seems carefully executed, giving a sonic middle finger in the face of the glamour of modern hardcore bands. The album (but this track in particular) takes hardcore back to the simplistic barebones of its fetal stages but with the added technicality of today’s scene to prevent it from sounding dated. The molding of these two chronological stages of hardcore is done seamlessly. “Screaming At The Moon”, with its interesting chord progression and song structure, demonstrates the bands knack for creating simple tracks that are just as likely incite a head bob as genuine thought.
The production sounds a bit “rawer” than on Modern Life Is War’s past releases. I consider this one of the strengths of the album. It’s gritty and flies in the face of spandex tight production that seems to make bands lose all the humility they so desperately strive for. When vocalist Jeff Eaton preaches through his guttural screams, it is difficult to focus on anything else but believing him and listening to what he has to say. One listen to “Fuck The Sex Pistols” and you will realize that this isn’t the overproduced glam-core you can take home to your parents. “Pendulum” wouldn’t sound out of place on Hot Cross’ newest release with an ever changing structure that makes more changes in less than 2 minutes than many bands can cram into 10 minute epics. My expectations were high in anticipation for this release and after one listen I realized that I really had no reason to worry. The band has stuck to their guns and made the record that they wanted to make. Eaton is quoted as saying “I would rather not write a song than to write a song about nothing” and that is exactly why this band is worlds ahead of bands out there trying to do the same thing; they don’t just talk, they live it. Sure there are people who will complain that there aren’t ridiculous time signatures. Others will find Midnight In America a little straightforward. This record will be lost on those people and that’s ok, you can’t please everyone. For the rest of us there lies an incredibly solid hardcore record that may not alter your perception of the genre but maintains the integrity that Modern Life Is War has continued to demand since the release of their first album.