Okay let’s get this bit out of the way – these two bands feature scene veterans that have played in so many bands that if you were to stick them together on a bill you’d end up with one of the most incredible festivals that never saw the light of day! Ignite, Rise Against, Death By Stereo, Unity, Outspoken and Man Will Surrender to name but a few. So now that I’ve got your attention and got that bit out of the way, onto the music… Kick starting proceedings are Nations Afire with six highly melodic songs filled with positive energy. There are touches of AFI here and there as Nations Afire’s melancholic rays of Summer shine from the stereo, and they aren’t afraid to shift gears here and there. With Sifting Through Ash they explore the realms of alternative rock, and Left Behind is a glorious track that brings to mind mid 90’s post-hardcore that the likes of Handsome and Quicksand perfected. A good varied batch of tunes and not a duff one amongst them.
I’ve been a fan of Last Light since their split with Germany’s 1000 Lowen Unter Feinden so I’m more than happy to be getting my teeth into some new material of theirs. These five songs were released as a very limited CD only EP for their recent European tour, so it’s great to see the material get the deluxe release it deserves. As soon as the new tunes kicked in I did notice something different to the earlier release. Firstly there is a change of tempo and mood, but more significantly the vocals sound like…. someone else is singing! And indeed Jae Hansel (ex Blood Days) has been replaced by Lance Webber. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something was familiar and when I did some research it all clicked – Lance used to sing in the great, underrated Man Will Surrender. Just like MWS did some twenty plus (!!) years ago, Last Light take the classic hardcore sound as a backdrop for their musical vision, adding some touches of “Revolution Summer” era DC hardcore (think Dag Nasty, Rites of Spring, Three) and post-hardcore rock to paint a glorious picture. As with their partners-in-crime Nations Afire they are not shy about exploring their boundaries and the results are music to these ears.
This record collects two bands that take the original Orange County hardcore sound and have put their own unique contemporary spin on it to make a fresh and exciting release. Tom Chapman