With hardcore having somewhat of a revival, it’s almost hard to even keep track of all the bands forming and breaking up day by day. It’s even harder to keep track of bands individually with so many of them sounding identical.
With that said, Have Heart are a breath of fresh air. The band began playing in 2002, released a demo in 2003, and this EP, What Counts, in 2004. Now as they gear up to release their debut full-length through Bridge Nine, I’d like to call attention to a band who do traditional hardcore justice.
What Counts as a whole is an absolutely relentless attack on trend-hoppers, greed, and false friends. Their messages are relayed with conviction and sincerity, as portrayed in vocalist Patrick Flynn’s gravelly voice. Although the vocals are relatively unique, Have Heart throw some interesting melodies and time changes into the mix, slightly reminiscent of Youth of Today.
When it comes to the EP’s peak, the title track stands out among the rest with the lyrics “take a breath -- reawake -- call forth the dread in your way / subdue -- prevail -- triumph over every fucking day / to persevere through -- is what counts.” “Dig Somewhere Else” begins with slightly heavier vocals and more of a consistent, less melodic sound. “Reinforced,” a song originally by Outspoken, wraps up the EP.
If cheesy, two-step parts aren’t your thing, fear not: Have Heart only incorporate them once into the release, during “Something More Than Ink,” a song about the band’s lasting values, which are “something more than ink -- on a page, on a shirt, on the back of my hand / something written in stone, words we wrote in stone.” If the song material sounds cliché to the genre, don’t brush them off until you’ve heard the delivery.
Gang vocals make you want to give a stranger a black eye? Have Heart won’t overwhelm you. They appropriately scatter them throughout the release and don’t solely rely on them for appeal.
Despite What Counts only presenting four new songs with one cover and one song from their demo, it’s a powerful EP. A bit cleaner of production would have done this EP wonders, yet even without a richer, tighter sound, What Counts shows enormous amounts of potential. I can’t wait to see what Have Heart will do with more album time and a bigger production budget. Either way, Have Heart will be sure to remind you what counts in hardcore.