Friendly Fire

Initiative

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Positive hardcore along the lines of the early Dischord Records roster -- minus the self-righteousness, and plus a vocal style influenced by the Scandinavian death metal scene -- the full-length debut by New York's Friendly Fire is a cross-cultural mix that works, for the most part. Singer Justin Shepp's appropriation of the Scandinavian "death croak" (also known as the "constipated Muppet") vocal might take some getting used to, both for hardcore purists and for death metal types who aren't used to the speedy tempos of Shepp's bandmates, but after the first couple of songs, the combination makes sense, and by the time of the unexpectedly poppy "The One Who Pulls the Trigger," with its melodic guitar hook in the chorus, there's a strong resemblance to the Rollins Band in a somewhat lighter, occasionally almost playful (as on the earnest but celebratory closing track "For the Kids") mood. Initiative isn't a masterpiece, but it does bring something new to the always-in-danger-of-stagnating American hardcore scene.

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