Roll Call, Perpetuate (Bridge Nine Records, 2022)

NYC’s Roll Call typify the word industrious.

The band’s wide ranging collective musical resume includes Outbreak, Final Fight, Seahaven, and Perfect World who, incidentally, are responsible for penning War Culture, one of my favorite hardcore records of the nascent decade.

Prolific discographies aside, the band boasts as busy a bunch as one could imagine. It was all initially conceived about a year ago by guitarist and kidnap-thwarting viral hero Brian Kemsley (Outbreak) and drummer James Phillips (Sea Haven, Final Fight). Roll Call’s head count is fleshed out by the wildly talented bassist and photographer Cornell Ward and vocalist Chad Leddy, who's on loan from his day job with the NYFD. Talk about some second hand exhaustion. 

Recent Bridge Nine signees, the band managed to pin down on of hardcore’s busiest. On the strength of what he heard, Chris Wrenn clearly couldn’t pass on Roll Call, despite moving label headquarters and freshly minting a record store. One listen to the band’s debut EP, Perpetuate, should summarily answer all your questions. 

Opener “Reaper Inside Your Mind” rides in on a wave of feedback before exploding into a sharp and concise shock of hardcore. Clocking in and out in roughly a minute, it’s a blazer that makes its bones somewhere in the midpoint between late '80s NYHC and early ‘oughts Boston. The clean production doesn’t skimp on rawness or urgency, which lends it a vibrant and decidedly current vibe.

Our friends at the mighty Unite Asia caught some Rival Mob influence and, while certainly spot on, Roll Call likely culls their inspirations from a far wider swath than most. 

Elsewhere, second track “I Lose, You Lose” plays on the rockin’ hardcore template perfected by The Suicide File. It finds time for a killer two-step, a sickeningly low slung bass sound, and a mosh call. The minute mark on “Exploit Me” is notably dope, pairing a manically picked classic hardcore riff to more staccato street wise rumble and booming gang vocals. 

The back half or Side B, as it were, features the band’s fastest and most dazzling rhythm section pyrotechnics in the form of “Contemplating.” Of Roll Call’s biggest and most formidable weapons is their ability to essentially make two songs in one, as here they smash first minute ragers to mid paced back halves.

It bears being noted that, after crafting some of my favorite hardcore riffs of the century on across a grip of releases and personal all-timer “You Make Us Sick," it’s exhilarating to have Kemsley with us, someone still penning future classics out of the blue. 

Photo: Evan McKnight

“I Am the Truth” and closer “Bleed Blue," respectively, waste no time and spare no comers, lobbing fistfuls of nihilistic rage. While the former feels epic despite leaning into its brevity, the latter is a note perfect takedown of policing. It culminates with the band’s most dimensionally successful playing across the whole collection.

Building a grinding tension together, we’re driven recklessly to the payoff, a righteous and incendiary vocal run of “Burn it, burn it, burn it to the ground. Burn it, burn it, burn it to the ground. You get what you get, and what you get is well deserved, what you get is justice served.” 

Roll Call, readers? Who’s already smashed that purchase link below?

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