Earlier this year 108 conveniently released their discography on two discs, titling it Creation. Sustenance. Destruction.. It showed off the two sides of the band: intense, full-throttle hardcore with a slight metallic flair (the favorable), which also turned out to be a notable influence for a number of bands that would follow later in the 1990s and continue on into the early 2000s; the other -- squealing, mid-tempo, guitar-drowned alternative metal (the not-so-favorable).
A minimally cursory glance at 108's stylistic progression is required only because the seven new songs offered on Oneoeight, all in demonstration form, definitely seem to draw aspects from both of those styles, but usually moreso the latter. In other words, some songs sort of sound written in between 1995's Songs of Separation and 1996's Threefold Misery, with a choice few seemingly nodding to the latter era.
There's an aggressive stomp to opener "Angel Strike Man," but with a funky restraint that still seems tempered by the likes of the band's once-peers in Helmet and Quicksand. It's great to see that at least this time around, the songs are a little shorter (the seven songs come out to around 21 minutes), but when they still drag by with distortion soaked guitars and the occasionally pulsating bassline, it's a little frustrating to know that doubling the speed just makes things sound that much better. "Ashes/Dust" seems to sneak a little "Smoke on the Water" chord reference in there. "The Sad Truth" is more wild, off-beat riffing with vocals nearly entirely in spoken word, a pissed off philosophical rant by Robert Fish. In "Our Kind," Fish delivers what sounds like a displaced aggression offset by sludging riffs. These songs aren't necessarily bad -- just a little noisy
and atonal. However, this section of new songs ends on positive notes: "Strength or Fear?" is the most complete sounding song here, and exhibits what I really like about 108: great pacing with Fish's searing, ready-to-explode vocal stance, pounding dynamics and simplistic guitar work peppered with the occasional impressive lick (in this song's case, a little solo in the bridge). "(Walk?) Their Path" is a little rawer, but no less intense; there's serious Black Flag channeling in this one, a band they actually cover in the next song ("The Bars") coincidentally.
To round out the EP, 108 also pay tribute to another hardcore legend, tackling Bad Brains' "Coptic Times" in a totally ripping cover. Things wrap up with a 1995 demo version of "Blood" (originally on Threefold). It's always good to hear this era of 108, even if it means it ends up being a standout on Oneoeight.
Maybe it just boils down to personal preference, but I like (love, really) 108 when they're absolutely destroying their instruments through intense, shifting and tempo-spinning hardcore punk, and not really the methodical, experimental riffs and mid-paced tempos they (mostly) exhibit here. If the band's writing continues in the path of "Strength" / "Walk," I'll be highly anticipating whatever they decide to release next. If it's more middling movements like the ones here, I'll begrudgingly have to pass.
Angel Strike Man
The Sad Truth