Through the course of my time spent in the hardcore scene as a whole, tastes have ebbed and flowed, affected by various changes in what styles have come in and out of popularity and consequently what sounds have gone in and out of vogue through the years; but there has always been a constant in hardcore, at least a constant since the late 1980s, and that is the undeniability of a fantastic Youth Crew record.
That is exactly and precisely what Change offers on their debut LP, Closer Still.
While there are newer bands that pop up from time to time that heavily depend on the pedigree of influential veteran members for notoriety, and believe me if anyone has earned notoriety and recognition it's Aram (vocalist of Change, formerly of Betrayed/guitarist of Champion, etc.), this record would (and does) stand on its own regardless of whose names appear in the liner notes.
Stacked with 13 tracks, every single one musically offering unique takes and stand-apart twists on a style that is well loved (and for that reason can sometimes be heavily scrutinized), the record flawlessly blends the storied past of this style of hardcore with something fresh and super exciting, a balancing act that puts Change in the good company of bands like The First Step, Mindset, and Insist.
The opening title track pulls you in and refuses to let you go until the words of the very Uniform Choice-esque closing poem of the last track, aptly named "Death," calls the record to a close.
With several awesome shows, including a European tour, already under their belts, Change has obviously exploded off the starting line and is already making huge strides, and with the quality of these tracks it's absolutely no surprise.
It's not an exaggeration to say that this record is already a strong contender for my favorite release of the year, and it's only February, if that tells you anything about just how much I enjoyed getting a sneak peek listen to these songs. Suffice it to say, you should definitely keep your eyes and ears open for the LP to drop soon in 2020.
Closer Still will be out this spring via REACT! Records, in the US, Refuse Records in Europe, and LLR Records in Australia.
**Note: This review first appeared in Standing Firm Hardcore Fanzine, Issue #1.