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Full of Life - Full of Live

Confusion / Neglect / Face Down / Enrage / Congress / Next Step Up

"We are Confusion, and this is Hell..." - 71%

robotiq, April 9th, 2022

Note: this review only focuses on the Confusion tracks of this compilation

It is annoying when your favourite cult bands didn’t record their best material in the studio. This happens to short-lived, fast-moving, non-album bands who split before having the chance to record their final songs. Those songs tend to represent the pinnacle of the band's evolution. Often, you can only hear such songs through sketchy rehearsals and live recordings. Bands like Dr. Shrinker and Rippikoulu are examples of bands that fall into this category. Their final rehearsal recordings were so good that we can overlook the roughshod recording quality.

Confusion from Brooklyn is another such band. Their live show at Trenton Gardens (New Jersey), from early 1993, is the only place to hear their final songs. The death metal influence (Deicide, Obituary, Possessed) is even more obvious on these songs than on their "Taste of Hate" seven-inch from the previous year. Confusion were playing shows with death metal bands and hardcore bands at this point and were bridging the divide like no other. They were one of the first NYHC bands to incorporate death metal influences. This recording is one of the most metallic to come from the early nineties hardcore scene. It outstrips what metalcore pioneers like Earth Crisis and Abnegation were doing at the time.

The show consists of old and new material. "Selfish" appeared on their first demo but sounds much better here. We get punishing renditions of "Confusion" and the epic "Distorted Visions". However, it is the newer material that is the main draw. Songs like "Storm the Walls" (which eventually saw a studio recording) and "Seeds of Greed" are short, sharp metal numbers with a flurry double-bass drumming and some concise riffs taken from Slayer and Possessed. It sounds somewhat like Demolition Hammer mixed with Cro-Mags. This is violent music, and seems to have evoked a violent reaction from the crowd (the vocalist comments on a fight that broke out during one of the songs).

The recording quality is good for a live recording of this nature. There is plenty of separation between the instruments. The guitars have bite and the bass rumbles along like a low flying aircraft. The band is tight and well rehearsed. The drumming is much more powerful than the average hardcore drummer (being more influenced by extreme metal). The vocalist has a vicious roar and he knows how to incite the crowd during the breakdowns. Some of his stage banter hasn't aged particularly well but he has plenty of presence.

Ironically, the "Full of Life - Full of Live" compilation is not the best or easiest place to hear this recording. A full tape of the show is easy enough to find online. That version includes two more unreleased songs (the ultra-heavy "Half Dead" and the Obituary-esque "Gasping for Air"). Both appear nowhere else and are worth their weight in gold. The band also closes the set with another song from their debut demo ("Trendy World"). It is all great, if raw as fuck. An album's worth of this stuff would have been something to behold.