The last few years brought us a nearly innumerable quantity of reunions of 80ies and 90ies Hardcore bands. And most of them could cause me to do nothing more but shrug. The typical “one-time-live-reunion” always smelled like making a quick buck or unbearable sentiment – or both. Rarely enough those reunions brought forth new records, and mostly those are far from being any good as well. So you could say the news that 90ies Hardcore heroes STRIFE have released a new album did not exactly wake sky-high expectations from my side. Unleashing absolute classics of “90ies Old School Hardcore” like One Truth or In This Defiance, the bar STRIFE set themselves is in fact sky-high. And how the heck do you want to do a Hardcore record of this style in 2012, when really every single possibilty this genre provides has been exploited literally thousands of times? Read it further down!
In all objectivity, STRIFE did really nothing surprising or revolutionary on Witness A Rebirth. You can tell the structures of most songs before hearing them. You’re able to sing along to the chorus after the first time, at the latest. The font used on the cover is the same STRIFE and countless other Hardcore bands have used ever since. The sound is really forceful, thanks to producer Nick Jett (of Terror-fame), the backing-vocals huge, and there’s not one song without breakdown and a heavy hitting moshpart. The songs have titles like Carry the torch or No apologies or Face your failures. The lyrics are in your face and so simple even a five year old child might be able to understand their meaning. But somehow, and I really don’t know how, STRIFE managed to make Witness A Rebirth not just a standard Hardcore record, but a really really good one. Maybe it’s because I rarely listen to Hardcore like that anymore, or maybe now I’m the one trapped in the fangs of nostalgia, but this record is among the best of its kind I’ve heard in a long while.
Of course, Iggor Cavalera’s (yes, the Sepultura guy) powerful drumming fits STRIFE perfectly, and the guest appearances of Biohazard‘s Billy Graziadei, Terror‘s Scott Vogel and Soulfly‘s Marc Rizzo push that record even more to the forefront of 2012’s Hardcore releases. But even without namedropping Witness A Rebirth would work very well. If STRIFE will play a show in my area I even might move my lazy old bones to that show. And I might even use my rusty vocal chords to sing along. STRIFE showed the world how to create outstanding Hardcore records – back and the 90ies as well as in 2012. Be sure to witness this rebirth.