It took Blues exactly 13 minutes to knock me back on my ass and assure me that hardcore is absolutely not dead. I was honestly starting to wonder—a couple weeks ago my favorite local hardcore act the Assailant announced they were breaking up and local hardcore-friendly venue SS Marie Antoinette closed its doors, and while shows of the heavy variety continue to happen at Camp Nowhere, West Seattle American Legion Hall, and the Vera Project (and with Iron Lung's CD-release show coming up at CHAC on October 11, with Hellshock), it had still been a while since I was (a) really stoked about a local hardcore show and (b) turned on to a new hardcore band that I actually really liked.

I worried I was just getting too old to appreciate the 'core.

But all faith was restored by Blues' EP Death and Taxes (released earlier this year on local Rome Plow Records). With five songs in 13 minutes, the Tucson, Arizona, quintet convinced me that there's still a place in my heart for hardcore, it just has to be a little bit innovative.

The vocals are delivered with throat-shredding ferocity that isn't uncommon in the genre, but the guitars are louder and dirtier, delivered with a shot of Southern Rock swagger. The drumming is chaotic—intense and all over the place, but still completely controlled. My only complaint is that the bass is a little lost in the mix underneath the swarm of heavy guitars. But over all, the sound is fucking huge, and I totally love it.

And God bless Rome Plow for taking the art of album design seriously—the three-inch CD is pressed on a full-size plastic disc, allowing the art on the front of the disc to show through on the back. Rome Plow's main madman, Adam Paysse, never ceases to amaze me with the care he takes when designing every disc his label releases.

Blues released a new full-length, Snakepit, earlier this month on Corrosive Recordings, and they were in town September 21 at Healthy Times Fun Club to play the last Assailant show ever. I'm gonna miss the Assailant, but Blues will be a nice distraction to get me through the mourning.

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Confidential to the Assailant: I love you and I'll miss you and I'm going to start saving my money now so in five years I can pay you a huge wad of cash to reunite for one show. Be ready. recommended