Steel Nation is one of those bands that I will forever kick myself in the ass for sleeping on. I listened to some peers and took the advice of avoiding them after they optioned to go the dual vocalist route after the departure of their front man. Honestly, it wasn’t until a few years ago when my band played with them the first time, did I give them a fair shake. Even though the crowd was light, they played their asses off and won me over. Grabbing their last record, Forever Wounded, sealed the deal and the band has catapulted themselves into one of my favorite bands from this great state. However, again, like an asshole, I slept on picking up their newest record, The Harder They Fall, until a few weeks ago but I’ll start by saying it has been in constant rotation since the day I got it.

The most dynamic element of Steel Nation is that they have the ability to write complete records. A lot of bands today, even in hardcore, aren’t about writing 10-12 lasting songs. They crank out the 3-4 bangers that will get everyone talking and then take a vacation on the rest of the album. So far, Steel Nation is 2-2 (I don’t count Soul Swallower) with putting out albums that I can just push play and let it ride until the end without the need to skip a single track. Double bass filled grooves, heavy yet naturally flowing breakdowns, crossover thrash licks, melodic guitar solos, with a dual vocal attack and a very It is like a hybrid of Pro-Pain, Biohazard, and The Spudmonsters without sounding like a recycled version of any of those influences. Lyrically, it’s about what you expect for a more traditional heavy hardcore band. The everyday struggle and hardships mixed with appreciation for those that stand by their side take up the majority of the record but that’s what hardcore was always about. However, they hybrid of harsh shouting and gruff melody in the two vocalists makes for some very catchy delivery. If you aren’t singing the chorus to By The Wayside to yourself after only hearing it once, you must hate fun.

As the resident production snob, I really enjoy the way this record sounds. Under or over production can ruin a listening experience for me. Everything element on this record sounds natural and is blended very well that nothing stands out and the band stands as a collective unit to assault your audio senses. There is a sense of grittiness to it that works well with the message and music that, if overproduced, would have lost this this complimentary element completely. It wouldn’t allow you to feel the record as much.

No need to restate it really, but this record is amazing and one of my favorites of the year. A true working man’s band, Steel Nation has outdone themselves. Hardcore is a young man’s game these days, but having been around the block once or twice, Steel Nation is still showing people how it’s done. Harder They Fall is out on Harm Reduction Records. Pick it up now.