Philadelphia's Good Graces have been toiling throughout Philadelphia since late 2011 playing a particularly intense brand of post-hardcore with a heavy dose of Hot Water Music influence. In a scene where originality doesn't necessarily translate to quality music, Good Graces makes up for what they lack in a new sound with a feverous intensity that isn't as common with many of their peers.

"Volume II", the band's second self released record, wastes no time getting to the point. "Good Idea. Glad I Came Up With It" is a melodic uptempo track that immediately calls HWM's "A Flight and a Crash" to mind in the best possible sense. Vocalist Aaron Ditro's gruff delivery perfectly suits the driving nature of this style of post-hardcore, allowing the track to breathe when necessary without sacrificing melody.

"So Long, Stinktown" is a moderate attempt at a mid paced ballad not dissimilar to supremely underrated Fugazi worshippers Lock & Key. Jersey bred rhythm section Dan Kuzma (bass) and Frank Tieri (drums) sound particularly locked in here, driving the song without attempting anything too flashy.

"Hell, Here's to the Sunshine State" sounds poised to become an anthem of Fest goers in Gainesville, as the song calls to mind the better elements of Hot Water Music classic "I Was on a Mountain". Ditro's voice sounds as if it's dripping petrol oil, expertly complimenting the melodic octave runs of the track's chorus. It's with this faster paced material that the band really shines. The pseudo breakdown at the 2:20 mark that ends the song is particularly memorable. This one is sure to be a crowd favorite, especially in a South Philly basement setting.

"Talk About Your All Time Backfires" and "Everything Lasts Forever" round out Good Grace's second set of tracks. The former features a welcome time signature change with a driving 6/8 chorus section followed by some catchy riffing from Ditro and guitarist Justin Dehel. "Everything Lasts Forever" begins with Ditro and a lone guitar; it's perhaps the record's most chilling moment. "Everyday I'm sinking, in every way I'm struggling to find myself in her good graces," Ditro belts as the band launches into yet another soaring vocal melody. You can almost feel the sweat dripping off the four piece's faces as they rip through the track.

In a world over-saturated with bands that seemingly exist only to create a Facebook profile or a bandcamp page, passion seems to have taken a backseat to shameless self promotion and bullshit record labels. For whatever originality Good Graces may lack in their chosen style, they certainly do not sound uninspired, instead offering up one of the more intense sets of post-hardcore Hot Water worship this reviewer has heard in years. Any doubts listeners may have will be instantly quelled after catching these guys live; the performance absolutely matches "Volume II's" intensity. Good Graces are most certainly a band poised to take the "next step" in 2014. Whether it's in a crowded basement or a smokey dive bar, the band serves up a level on intensity that suits their sound.