The Fierce Urgency of Now

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Pretty much anytime a hardcore band chooses to go with two guitarists instead of one, there's a good chance that the rather limited and hamstrung purist's definition of the genre is about to be transcended. This is very much the case for Philadelphia's Passion, whose metal-tinged 2006 debut, The Fierce Urgency of Now, is undoubtedly rooted in the hardcore aesthetic and spirit, but simultaneously rejects those restrictions of simplicity that keep so many hardcore bands predictable, stagnant, and forgettable. Rather, the group's instantly compelling assault begins with the provocatively plain-spoken, unflinchingly caustic nature of their lyrics, which tackle difficult subjects ranging from child abuse ("One Way Ticket"), to totalitarian government tactics ("In Ourselves We Trust"), to irresponsible media organizations and their shameless tactic of fomenting hysteria for better ratings ("Patriot for a Day"). In short, listeners looking for vague or oblique wordplay better look elsewhere, and mercilessly cynical metal heads should beware that the band does occasionally suffer from certain emo-like compulsions. On the intolerably preachy "Me," for instance, they commit the capital sin of blatant self-centeredness, but more frequent, minor offenses also find them forcing sympathetic lines like "I can't imagine the pain that you feel" and "I can't thank you enough for being a part of this" into otherwise scathing numbers such as the addiction-related "Dig in Deep" and religion-challenging "Statistics That Show We Do Not Care." Still, with rare exceptions, one can count on regularly inventive arrangements, varied song tempos, and untraditional song structures (check out the hardcore purity-smashing dynamic diversity of "The Natural," "In One Ear and Out the Other," and "Bulletproof Mona Lisa") to keep one's attention span from wandering throughout what is generally an impressive first statement for such a recently formed band.

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