There’s been many a band over the years, who’ve taken the Hardcore Punk blueprint, torn it up and started again. When Brad Brains came raging onto the scene with elements of reggae and dub, they were hailed as the second coming, but more recently bands like Turnstile and Code Orange have divided opinion on what can truly be considered “Hardcore Punk” these days. So with a huge “hold my beer” come XL Life from Cardiff whose blend of abrasive riffing, chaotic beats and occasional forays into hip-hop, coupled with highly personal lyrics, will have the hardcore gatekeepers scratching their heads for years to come. Anyone involved in the alternative scene over the last decade will be well aware of The Astroid Boys energetic live shows, which can mostly be credited to the efforts of vocalist Traxx, a born punk frontman if ever there was one. He has teamed up with some of his ex band members Jasper and Lewis to create this exciting new band which will be taking the UK by storm in the coming years I’m sure.
The Boogie Down South is the first full length album from the guys, following on from their debut E.P Sweet Moves and if you are looking to see what they are all about then If You Want It, You Can Get It gives you the first indication of what they can produce. You could never accuse XL Life of being too technical, but simplified riffs over passionate lyrics and throbbing bass lines always work best and have that in droves. Baby Steps featuring Bob Vylan focuses on the importance of recovery and health, something which has been pivotal to the band, in what has been something of a traumatic last year for them. When Traxx is shouting, there’s a definite likeness to the style and passion of Ray Cappo (Youth Of Today/Shelter). Feeling Away and Just Do It are sure fire dancefloor fillers, encapsulating huge guitar breakdowns and breakbeats in equal measure. The whole thing is topped off with the heaviest track of the lot. Slow lurching guitars bring in the awesome Built To Last with samples and Traxx’s angry delivery bringing an end to what has to be seen as early contender for album of the year.
For the guys in the band, The Boogie Down South has an almost cathartic energy to it, showing just what can be achieved when passion, energy and anger are channelled positively. This is just the beginning for XL Life, 2023 is going to see them reach new heights. Watch them fly….Chris Andrews