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Fear and Despair in the House of NYC… - 82%

bayern, September 23rd, 2019

and stirred by one of the movement’s most loyal advocates at that… advocates once upon a time, though, as by the time the band’s full-length hit the stores their style had shifted readily towards fuller-fledged thrash/crossover, a marvellous affair and one of the finest presentations of this sub-genre.

One thing that easily made me fall in love with the guys’ early repertoire is the voice of Eddie Sutton, the vocalist and the band founder; the man provides a most stark contrast to the quarrelsome shouts of his colleagues Tommy Victor (Prong), Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags), and Lou Koller (Sick of It All); his clean very emotional croon soars high above the blitzkrieg musical histrionics, creating some truly memorable moments along the way. The man is in full swing on the album reviewed here, too, the second temptation for the band, and one that sees them moving further away from their stripped-down hardcore beginnings.

This is a full-on metal opus which swings in several directions, but not before paying tribute to the good old thrash with the fast-paced blitzkrieger "All About Dope". In fact, nearly 1/3rd of the album has preserved the hyper-active spirit of the previous recording the guys regularly providing lively speedy injections ("Soft Way Out", "Ball Hugger"), the sharp lashing riffs of those pricking the prevalent heavy/power metal layer the latter either built on more cleverly-executed near-progressive opuses (“Make Me an Offer”) or on sprightly galloping rhythms ("Stand For"). There are a couple of surprisingly proficient displays of musical virtuosity like the dazzling leads on “Who's to Blame”, but the presence of the short rappy filler “Two Minute Warning” kind of clouds such loftier aspirations, the atmospheric anti-climactic lustre of the lengthy "The Future (“Ain't What It Used to Be”) another debatable occurrence despite this composition’s more ambitious, progressive pretensions.

An attractive package overall, one that doesn’t repeat the highly energetic histrionics from its predecessor, but opts for a more flexible song-writing with more influences embedded the band looking to embrace a wider gamut from the metal spectre, having chosen a more serious stance with barely a nostalgic look back at their more aggressive primal roots. Although some may mourn the general loss of the thrashing urgency from the debut, there will surely be others who will readily embrace this diverse concoction, a venerable tribute to all things old school at a time when those values were swiftly fading from the social consciousness.

Alas, this remained the band’s final retro glance as Sutton steered the style into other directions on the next two efforts, very leisurely, nonchalantly performed amalgams of garage rock, groove, grunge, alternative and just a bit of metal which did very little to increase his offspring’s stature although such stylistic mish-mashes were not exactly frowned upon during those “anything goes” times. He put an end to the Leeway enterprise in the mid-90’s, only to resurrect it as Leeway NYC in the new millennium, the new moniker nicely reflecting the man’s decision: to go back to his very roots and to bash the good old hardcore with passion from here to eternity. No fear, no despair anymore… no place for such counter-productive emotions with this new chapter.