To get the obvious out of the way: If you like With Honor, this is worth your money. This is all you have to read; if you already know the band, go out and buy This is Our Revenge. It follows their split with the Distance, stylistically.
If you don't know With Honor, then let's talk turkey, shall we? Although Brian McTernan's botch job on Bane worried me about the production of This is Our Revenge, all the instruments sound just fine and Todd's voice is a sibilant call to arms. Phew. But what about the songs themselves?
Gone are the every-other-word gang vocals, gone are the breakdowns and double-bass hammer, and in its place is strong songwriting. After being in the shadows of Bane and Shai Hulud, With Honor steps up to the plate with something that doesn't quite sound like traditional hardcore, but instead harkens back to the days when hardcore didn't mean Pantera-inspired breakdowns and musings about killing your lover.
This is positive hardcore made in 2005. There's nothing fancy in the packaging, just the lyrics and an interesting theme throughout the booklet, with no vanity shots or use of blood or knives. There is, however, a shout-out to tourmates Comeback Kid and Bane that brings tears to the eyes of anyone lucky enough to catch the tour the three groups shared this past year. Todd pours his heart out in "20 Strong:" "I've been staring / at these pictures so long / I swear they're talking back… / they'll never understand / how 20 kids in 3 vans / won't ever be the same again / 6 weeks in the clouds / I'm still not ready to come down."
Stylistically, there's nods to previous torchbearing groups like Gorilla Biscuits, but the songs feel like With Honor as opposed to a group mimicking 1988. Then again, this is With Honor here, so you still have the uplifting qualities that made Heart Means Everything worth repeated listens, but the songs themselves are stronger, no longer needing crutches to get through tepid moments of songs. Initially, there's a strong nod to Richmond's Strike Anywhere; repeated listens give the listener the idea that the group was listening to a lot of Ignite as well.
That said, there's no question that With Honor is and remains a hardcore band, but the digestion of Strike Anywhere seems to give rise to Todd's attack on the administration, which sound odd from a group that usually left its attacks on society; it's not out of place, however; "they march us off to a new war / it's soon to be a hundred more / we're wondering what the hell we're fighting for...rationalize words without action."
While this CD won't bring about any revolutions in music, it's much more than a solid release. It's a damn fine one that distances With Honor from the rest of the pack, and blows away any pretense of slowing down or giving in to pressure. With the release of This is Our Revenge, With Honor wipes the mascara and hair dye off of the Victory bulldog, and invites it to start again.
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