Various – The Return Of The California Takeover (War Records)

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Depending on who you speak to, the second (or third) coming of hardcore took place in the early to mid-nineties. New York, long known for it’s well-established scene, was starting to spew out a new wave of classic sounding hardcore bands such as Madball, H20 and the like, but there was an emergence of bands who took the more metallic route on their hardcore journey. This culminated in a live album in 1996 featuring three such bands who’ve gone on to reach near legendary status within the hardcore scene. I’m talking of course about Earth Crisis, Snapcase and Strife and the album is the awesome The California Takeover Live. Now some 25 years later those same 3 bands have taken to the stage once again to see if lightening can be caught in a bottle twice with The Return Of The California Takeover.

Kicking off the album are the mighty Earth Crisis. Perhaps one of the most divisive bands in hardcore when they first came out, completely blurring the line between metal and hardcore, they’ve since gone on to become one of the forebearers of the vegan straight edge scene, with album after album of heavy hitting hardcore. The albums opener Forged In Flames is a short sharp reminder of what this band are about and it’s evident that they’ve lost none of their ferocity.

Snapcase are up next with the positive vibes of the pit inducing Incarnation. Being angry never sounded so optimistic with Snapcase and the kids of today need to look back at these guys if they want to know where the likes of Turnstile, Angel Dust and the like, came from. 1996 was a big year for next band Strife. A European tour with Sepultura and guest appearances from Chino Moreno from Deftones, catapulted them into the ears of the Kerrang crowd and it’s easy to see why as they belt out Waiting from their second album, but it’s next track Stand As One that gives the listener a better idea of what Strife are all about. Fast drums and abrasive guitars are met with Rick Rodney’s bark showing that few do it better than Strife.

Snapcase go all the way back to 1993’s Lookinglasself with Drain Me, a lesson in guitar harmonics if ever there was one followed by the awesome Caboose. Not to be outdone Strife then take it back to their debut album One Truth with a raging take on Lift along with a very welcome “Fuck Trump” shout and rounding out the album in ferocious style and also taking it back to 1995 are Earth Crisis with Born From Pain one of the stand out tracks from the seminal Destroy The Machines album.

Some of these guys are now well into their 50’s but The Return Of The California Takeover, goes to prove that age is just a number and the music and message of these three bands resonates even now. Earth Crisis, Strife and Snapcase helped jumpstart a dwindling hardcore scene in the nineties and they sound just as vital as they did 25 years ago… Chris Andrews

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