Although they had done quite a few “reunion” shows in their 11 year hiatus, Strife seemingly resurrected themselves from the dead in 2012 an absolute rager, and first record in over a decade, with the appropriately titled, Witness A Rebirth. Ditching the “maturity” that was the Angermeans record, the California five piece went back to what got them their love and cranked out a record that should have been the immediate follow-up to the (now) classic, In This Defiance. If you are going to come back from that much time off you need to make a statement and boy did they ever. Now here we are 3 years later and finally getting some follow-up music in the form of an EP entitled, Incision. It also serves as the first release for guitarist Andrew Kline’s new WAR Records.

If Witness A Rebirth was the “version 2.0” of In This Defiance, than this EP could easily be considered the sequel to One Truth. With the exception of the title track, this album ditches a lot of the metalcore mosh worthy aspects that made Witness and Defiance such violent masterpieces and went back to something that leaned a lot more to the brand of hardcore that made up their debut record. More creepy crawl drumming, simple punk chord progressions and breakdowns that don’t necessarily call for invisible ninja fighting. Tons of gang vocals and easy to remember lyrics, this album calls more for singalongs than bodily harm. However, while there is a lot of good to the record, I do have some complaints. Still Searching, which serves as the albums opening track, is a mid-tempoed traditional hardcore entry that never really goes anywhere. The lyrics are infectious but seems like it wants to build into something great but never actually does. If this was the intro to a full length, it would have been the perfect calm before the storm to get you ready for the whirlwind to come. However, that is not the case as only 3 songs follow. It’s not a bad song, per se, but with limited time on an EP, this felt like a waste of 2 minutes. Revelations is another track that seems a little uninspired as well, which is funny because it’s still a pretty decent song. There is diversity in both speed and seemingly blends both the Truth and Defiance; I tend to feel a little underwhelmed by the time the song concludes. It almost feels like a track was left on the cutting room floor from the Witness A Rebirth sessions. The albums final track, Police Story is a politically driven old punk tune. It reminds me a lot of early Cro-Mags if you removed some of their crossover elements. It’s a different approach for Strife but they definitely pulled it off. The sole shining moment of these 4 songs is the title track that features both The Human Furnace and Aaron Melnick. With two Ohio heavyweights accompanying this track, it’s no surprise that this sounds very Clevelandy and is arguably the most pissed off Strife track in their entire catalog. HF’s devil vocals over the chorus and a signature lengthy Melnick solo provide just the right amount of character to make this an instant classic and demanded song on upcoming Strife set lists.

While I’m appreciative of the fact that there is new Strife material, I can’t help but feel let down by this one. I absolutely love Witness A Rebirth and it felt like a band completely rejuvenated to take on the world and take back their claim near the top of the hardcore ranks, but this one feels a little rushed and uninspired. Hopefully this was meant to only serve as a stop-gap to an upcoming full length. The title track is incredible but I don’t know how often I’m going to want to revisit the other 3 tunes in the future. Maybe if they were scattered throughout a full LP, I’d appreciate them more. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as Angermeans.