Man, has it been 4 years already since the last Strength For A Reason record? Between a pretty aggressive show schedule and just how well Burden Of Hope has held up, a pretty lengthy gap in time has passed since the hardcore titans from Nanticoke, PA have graced us with new material. That wait ends now with, in what I’d consider their best material, Through Cold Eyes.

Every single time SFAR puts a new record I’ve quickly formed the opinion that we’re witnessing the peak of the band and then a few years later they release new material that puts that record to shame. Burden Of Hope, which still is still part of my regular rotation of records, was such a phenomenal outing by the band that was just leaps and bounds better than their previous records, that I figured anything afterwards was going to be on the downswing of the bands career. Even though Through Cold Eyes is only half the length in new material, the band is once again tighter than ever. While I hate waiting 4 years every time they decide to record something, the distance between albums is definitely proving to be a smart move on their part. They are given time to perfect their craft over and over again until playing together is such a second nature that when the writing process it begins it’s no more difficult than getting back on a bike.

With all that being said, Strength For A Reason definitely follows the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality when writing. They have always remained heavy hardcore without drifting into metal territory that most bands of their ilk tend find themselves. Taking cues from the old school and just beefing it up is their game and they firmly sit amongst the top of the heap. I give a lot of credit for the attraction to these newest songs in drummer Jimmy Prisk. As far as I’m aware this is the first time he’s been 100% in the writing process without and you can tell because the technical level of drumming has increased significantly. Not to say their previous drummer was a slough, but Prisk’s style is akin to Dennis Merrick of Earth Crisis. Everything is very precise and makes you feel that if anyone else played on these songs it would sound wrong.

Vocalist Karl Kivler has always served as a voice of the voiceless in the middle class. Taking the everyday struggles that we all find ourselves in and dealing with that constant frustration, Kivler has found the perfect and positive outlet for a release of that rage. There isn’t anyone that I call my friend, in or out of hardcore, that couldn’t identify with the lyrics and the message of Strength For A Reason. Something like that speaks volumes to a bands appeal for me and is a huge factor in while I’ll always fully support these guys.

So once again we find ourselves being schooled by the old men. This album has already catapulted to the top of my favorite albums of the year. It’s definitely, without a doubt, the best hardcore EP you’ll get in 2013 and the year is only half over. Do yourself a favor and go buy this. You surely won’t be disappointed and as an added bonus you get treated to 4 live tracks. While it won’t capture the feeling of being there in person to witness it, it’s a good example of what to expect when seeing these guys in their best setting…on the stage.