Dead Hearts

Bitter Verses

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By its very definition, hardcore is punk rock performed harder and faster than normal; yet Buffalo, NY's Dead Hearts throw a significant monkey wrench into this accepted truth by offering a debut album -- 2006's Bitter Verses -- predominantly characterized by mid-to-slower tempos. (Of course the fathers of hardcore themselves, Black Flag, slowed down the music in their later years, but by then they'd been largely disowned by most hardcore purists.) Occasional speed bursts featured on "Innocence," "Hope," and "Cold," among others, help one resist the premature urge to label the whole thing "revolutionary" (as does the group's moronic insistence on single-word song titles), but the slower-than-thou strategy is certainly atypical enough to score the band immediate brownie points for distinguishing themselves in this most limited of musical genres. Sure enough, with classic hardcore's mindless mosh-pit mentality held in rhythmic check, deliberate album standouts like "Dusk," "Fall," "Epitaph," and "Abandonment," achieve a rare dynamic tension that makes the eventual moments of high energy release all the more powerful. And, with the additional textures provided by extremely unusual and mournful melodic guitar parts throughout (actually constituting the sum total of the oddly named instrumental "Maeror"), Bitter Verses makes for a more diverse and repeat-spin-encouraging experience than your average hardcore listener is used to enjoying. Recommended.

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