Condemned 2 Death

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Born-again crossover agents Condemned joined a long list of unlikely reunions mitigated by the Nuclear Blast label with 2011's Condemned 2 Death CD, their first release in almost two decades! You see, once upon a time in the mid-'80s, the San Francisco natives figured alongside D.R.I., the Dicks, M.D.C., and other fledgling groups in the now legendary Vat's scene, so there's no questioning Condemned's credentials -- just the wisdom of their return, should it go pear-shaped. Yet, by and large, those worries evaporate just as soon as Condemned 2 Death gets underway, launched by a Motörhead-like bassline from band lynchpin Keith Chatham on "Big Time Game Hunting," which paves the way for a rarely surprising but consistently engaging and oftentimes euphoric collection of timeless hardcore anthems. Purists looking to simply pump their fists and shout along need look no further than infectious calls-to-arms like "Aggressive System" and "Anti-Social"; crossover fans looking to satisfy their metallic speed-riffing kinks can dive into "Thoughts of Equality" and "Emotional Blurr"; attention-deficit-disorder listeners will get just what they crave in sub-minute blasts like "Practicing for War" and "D-Day"; then everyone can catch their breath during slower numbers like "Thoughts of Equality," "Crucified," and "Cleansing Pool." The lyrics, like the music, also stick with the classic hardcore program (socio-political messages, railing against the system, etc.), harking back to simpler times and familiar hallmarks rather than experimenting with new millennium chicanery. But one feels this is ultimately for the better, and the authentic results show Condemned validating their belated comeback by remembering where they come from, and their fans surely wouldn't want it any other way.

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