Chatham-Kent, Ontario, has a few notable exports. Car parts, for one. Solar power is another. NHL hockey players, too.
Hardcore isn’t high on that list. The rural region is centred between the historic hardcore hub of Detroit and the vibrant local scene of London, Ontario. Still, Just Right is the first band I’ve heard claim Kent County Hardcore.
Their demo is in line with a new Southern Ontario phenomenon: kids who loved the Disembodied revival leaning a little more “punk” after discovering Drain, Gulch, and the One Scene Unity comp.
The demo’s artwork certainly screams straightforward hardcore. It’s a hand-drawn black and white picture of a cop getting punched in the face by a hooded mosher. That hilarious image is juxtaposed between the band’s name in block letters.
I expect someone coming from a heavier world would also consider these riffs to be a step in the punk direction. All the modern hardcore hallmarks are here. The riffing is a high point on this demo. At least half the parts are cool, catchy and fun. Something about the way they’re sewn together doesn’t seem right, though. There’s a stylistic mish mash going on.
Just Right go from the thrashy West Coast bounce of Drain to the East Coast groove of Trapped Under Ice to the metallic slamming of Year of the Knife—sometimes all in one song. The songs are all pretty far afield of their source material in a structural sense, too. My snobby opinion is that hardcore has been codified and distilled to a perfect formula.
Sure, some of the best hardcore is written by breaking that formula, but those songwriters have usually mastered the form and know exactly what to change.
I’m not sure Just Right knows the formula exists. The most glaring example of this is “Watch Your Tone," an endless cascade of breakdowns, punctuated by an uptempo thrash part where the breakdown should go. The vocalist, on this song and others, has an “Emmure-ian” tendency to sing over the chuggy, slow parts and then use the uptempo moments as instrumental breaks. This is a mirror image approach to the average song by TUI or Drain.
Bands like Knocked Loose effectively punctuate that style with punk leanings, but they’re calculated about it. Just Right comes across as metalcore Mad-Libs with Triple-B riffs in the blanks. The songs don’t have any momentum, or if they do, a misplaced breakdown kills it as fast as it started. Save for the song “Just Right," which I think nails what they were aiming for.
I don’t want to be too hard on this demo. The band is learning. The riffs on this record are good, they just aren’t used properly. I’m sure that’s a byproduct of putting together a band in a small town, where it might be impossible to find 5 people who’ve heard the Outburst demo. It’s also a byproduct of being young and trying something with a learning curve. That’s to be celebrated, not derided.
Give the riff demons in Just Right Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire and Victim in Pain and then come back in a year. You’ll have a totally digestible modern hardcore EP. The demo, however, just doesn’t go down quite right.
Tagged: just right