When I was a young and tender hardcore enthusiast in the mid-late 90's, there were a few cities on the map that I had circled. These were locations that, at the time, I saw as being meccas for hardcore. New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC... Erie, Pennsylvania. You must be thinking, "Erie? Really?". You see... in my eyes during that time, all roads lead to Erie. Bands like Brothers Keeper, xDisciplex and Shockwave had a stranglehold on not only a region... but a community that was punctuated with a specific sound and style. It wasn't until around 1999 that I really found out how powerful a thing these bands had built for themselves. It was when my band at the time was becoming increasingly road active and we were starting to cross off those prime destinations from our bucket list of places to play. We pulled into Erie on a quiet snowy Saturday afternoon and as soon as we walked through the doors of the venue, we were slapped with a heavy dose of hardcore reality. Erie was not only a town... it was a movement, a sense of community rarely rivaled. It was one of those moments in time that you feel truly inspired. Sadly, I haven't been back to the area more than a small handful of times in the nearly decade and a half since then, but it seems that there is still a fire in that furnace... because from the still smoldering wreckage of those monumental hardcore bands comes Human Animal.

Dark Days is the debut EP from this band of hardcore veterans who in some cases haven't been active in bands in some time. All too often when in situations like this the dust is brushed off, but the same old tricks are employed and what you have is a product that is already stale before its even opened. That is absolutely not the case here. Human Animal, while embracing the telltale traits of their past lives in 90's hardcore, have taken a tried and true timeless formula and have really made it their own.

All of the pieces of this band are played exceptionally well and accent each other perfectly. The rhythm section is pounding and focused. Being the backbone of any piece of music, without strong drumming and bass work... the rest will crumble. The vocals are very direct and actually quite unique. While projected with great force, there is a subtle sense of melody that I think really sets it apart from the rest of the pack. It is in these small details that I think this band really shines... but what I think is the star of the show is the guitars. They are massive and cut through the mix like they should. The riffs feel fresh and at the same time, remind you of hardcore days gone by. When was the last time you heard a hardcore band not only play well written and articulate solos... and NOT make it sound like guitar wankery? Its been a while for me and this release is a complete breath of fresh air.

The bottom line is that this is one of my favorite hardcore releases of the past few years. The songwriting is thoughtfully orchestrated, the playing is stellar and the overall presentation reminds you of past glory days without being trite or cliche. Overall, this is a phenomenal first release from a band that I hope we all get to hear a lot more from in the future.

You can download the entire EP for free HERE... or you can get a copy of the CD for free when you purchase a shirt from the band (which I would recommend). Also... a vinyl release is currently in the works... so be on the lookout for that.