I tell you what, if you need a real rousing in the morning and a strong coffee isn’t doing the trick, then just try a couple of rounds with Houston, Texas band Liberty & Justice. This debut album of theirs is a wake-up call and a half. Their sound is raw and uncompromising, but it also contains many hidden secrets. Picking up equal influences from Hardcore and Oi!, this musical journey drops you off all over the shop. One moment you could be at a Negative Approach show in 1982, or next time you blink you might find yourself covered in beer at a Hostage Records showcase show in 1998. Close your eyes again and you’re back in CBGB’s in 1985, or some dingy spot in London or the dusty streets of Sydney in the late seventies.
The elements that keep this coherent are simple, starting with some brutal vocals reminiscent of Raybo of Bonecrusher fame. The glue that holds things together is the hard and heavy rhythm section, pounding each snare beat like a blow to the head. The guitars are not especially distorted, but the sound is just right as they carry both melody and power. There are loads of little melodies here and there that just keep you listening out for more. Here and there they throw in some more exotic elements – a little bit of brass, some off-beat ska/ reggae influences and sections here and there almost similar to Transplants. So much going on for you to get right into, but you can also ignore that and just let this wall of power hit you like a ton of bricks. A really powerful collection of songs. Tom Chapman