But a Whimper

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Anyone who thinks that all hardcore sounds the shame should spend a little bit of time with the debut effort from Ramallah. (And "little" is literal here -- in true hardcore style, this album's nine tracks clock in at a total of just under 14 minutes.) Consisting basically of former Blood for Blood frontman Rob Lind, who is joined on drums by Neil Dyke but plays everything else himself, Ramallah is unusually specific in its primary lyrical concerns, though Lind is a bit coy about naming names. It doesn't take much to figure out what he's getting at, though, what with his band name, song titles like "Ramallah" and "Al Shifa," and references to the U.S. attack on Khartoum in 1998. Lind gets kudos for guts, even if his choice of sympathies will seem a bit strange to some. Musically, though, there's simply no denying the power of this album, which is unbelievably tight, disciplined, and well-constructed. Every word is audible and enunciated, and yet the sound is as bone-crushing as any hardcore release. A few sections are even sung, and the intro to "Beauty" is downright pretty. The album closes on a genuinely creepy note, with a decidedly non-punky composition sung through the eyes of a molested child. All in all, this is an amazing debut from a "band" who will hopefully turn out to be much more than a one-off solo project.

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