Have you ever wondered what Bad Brains would have sounded like if the band was comprised of liberal arts students who dropped out of school to make crystal meth?
Well neither have I, but now that you're curious let me acquaint you with Violent Bullshit's Adult Problems.
The first actual release from these Brooklyn-based scene vets (featuring members of Orchid, Black Army Jacket and Les Savy Fav, among others), Adult Problems is an explosive burst of NY/DC-style hardcore retrofitted with a fresh coat of art-punk veneer and about three decades worth of hindsight. Resurrecting a sound so indebted to a certain time and place while remaining relevant can be a daunting task, but given Violent Bullshit's impressive pedigree it's hardly a surprise they pull it off. What is surprising, however, is just how far the album exceeds expectations.
At first glance, Adult Problems appears to be nothing more than old-school dudes playing older-school hardcore for the hell of it; but upon closer inspection the album reveals itself to be a rather well thought-out artistic statement. Although its foundation rests upon a blend of Born Against style riffing, Bad Brains-esque stop'n'go rhythms, and all the noisy thrashing you'd expect from ex-members of Ebullition bands, Adult Problems maintains an infectious sense of melody and a youthful exuberance not usually associated with dudes in their mid-to-late 30's. But perhaps what's most impressive about the album is just how cleverly constructed the aforementioned foundation is. While most "____-revival" bands come up short by limiting themselves to one frame of reference, VBS have succeeded in weaving a tapestry of creative influence into something undeniably fresh but easily traced back to it's roots.
It's not just the songs themselves that bear this quality; every angle of the album -- from the scratchy sounding production, to Jayson Green's blatant self-reference, to the inclusion of bassist Matt Cash's gaffe at the beginning of "Read and Write" -- is a testament to just how meticulously VBS have done their homework. Thanks to that effort, along with a fair bit of creativity and a heaping pile of songwriting ability, Adult Problems walks the very fine line between "trip down memory lane" and "retread" with no trouble at all.
What I find most endearing (and given the album's title/lyrical themes, most fitting) about Adult Problems is how invigorating scope and songwriting experience can be when injected into a genre that forgets most of it's heroes by the time they've turned 26. I'm not saying this is the best hardcore record ever, but you'd be hard-pressed to find something in today's scene that manages to be this on-point while still "staying true to its roots" so to speak. Hell, I'd put this album up against anything the dudes in VBS have done previously, and I fucking love Orchid.
TL;DR: the fact that the dudes in VBS have been listening to this kind of music since I was still in diapers probably has something to do with their ability to execute it so undeniably well. With that in mind, maybe it's time us "hardcore kids" recognize the adults could be onto something.
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