New York hardcore band, Sick Of It All, have been big players in the scene for some time now and When The Smoke Clears marks the bands 30th anniversary. The five song EP is a crash, nay a ten car pileup, course in NYHC.
Like all good NYHC bands, Sick Of It All have brought the DIY nature of punk and smashed it head first into the beefy tones of modern hardcore. The EP opens with the title track and doesn’t rely on speed to get you moving but a head banger of a riff. It’s simple drum beat and pulsing vocals are a real fist raiser, then before you know it the two minutes are over. Sick Of It All have hit the pacing on the head with each song having its own shining moment in the spotlight. Black Venom is an aggressive assault of huge tension building and even bigger drops. Utilising the verse, chorus, verse chorus structure allows the force of the last bridge/breakdown to really hit home hard. This formula is followed for the majority of the EP. Moshing riffs and gang vocals finish the album in real New York fashion. The unity of the chanting vocals in Fortress are simple yet memorable. A good way to get When The Smoke Clears stuck in your head for a good hour or two.
The highlight of the album however has to be Doomed Campaign. It echoes an older style of hardcore with a more of a punk feel to it. The song is full of anti-establishment lyrics and a fuck you attitude to fit the faster riffs, there’s a real Tony Hawk Pro Skater vibe pushing this song forward. The catchy song splits the EP in half with its less aggressive nature and proves hardcore doesn’t have to be all breakdowns and heavy riffs.
I can’t begin to imagine how tough it is to continue to make music for 30 years but Sick Of It All have managed to make a killer EP to add to their collection. When The Smoke Clears is a decent EP earning it a 7/10. It’s a nice slice of traditional sounding hardcore, there may be nothing new or innovative but meh. NYHC founded its sound long ago and any innovation would have just been added for the sake of it. It is clear Sick Of It All make whatever they likes, which lucky for us is good honest hardcore.