Abandoned Future

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If anyone ever wondered whether it was possible to make a truly old-school hardcore album in the mid-'90s, lacking the speed metal and grindcore influences that started infiltrating the scene even as early as a decade before, look no further than this reissue of the collected works of New Jersey's 97a, a band that was either too late for its proper time or too soon. Abandoned Future is 19 wound-up blasts of adrenaline fury (plus an unlisted 20th bonus track, naturally indexed at track 97), complete with nearly incomprehensible vocals shouting over a twin-guitar attack and double-time rhythm section. It all sounds kind of needlessly retro, but for the fact that the group were actually really good at their chosen style; tracks like "Better Off Dead," with its droning single-note guitar line, or the 25-second breakneck stomp of "Gojira" were as good as hardcore got in that decade, and the album as a whole is refreshingly free of pretense and emo-style whining. This CD includes the entirely of the 1996 EP Better Off Dead and several outtakes and compilation tracks from the same period.