The hype machine can be a dangerous thing for a new release. Prior to actually hearing Think I Care’s World Asylum some months ago, it was talked up as if it was the next Age of Quarrel. I heard very little of what it sounded like, and quite a bit of “dude, just fucking listen, it’s so good,” and “how have you not listened to this yet, it’s like the best hardcore album of the last five years.”
Then I heard the album. This, this is the best hardcore album of the last five years? Hardcore is in one hell of a sorry state if that holds even a slight semblance of truth. Boston has produced some of the most memorable bands and memorable records of the last 20 years, but it’s with unfortunate regret that I say this is nowhere among them.
It’s a heavier, more deliberate incarnation of the traditional Boston style, but it lacks the gusto, it lacks the ability to keep you on edge because the tempo changes are almost non-existent. A similar problem plagued the most recent Righteous Jams record, and it strikes here again. It’s hard, gritty, and menacing, but it’s too stable, too...plaintive.
And I know that sounds ludicrous for a band as hard and heavy as this, but I can’t get past the complacency that Think I Care allow themselves to sit in. “Chains” churn on the same repetitive chord progressions for most of the songs' duration, and while it’s heavy, it’s not much else. The vocals are strong and thick, and they fit the muddled guitar sound perfectly, the song just simply doesn’t go anywhere. The second half picks up the pace a marginal amount, but the same chords are played at the same volume while the singer stays at his same pace as well. “Nothing Means Nothing” continues in the very same vein, only altering the riffs a bit for a more up-and-down rhythm. It’s still not engaging, and the band still does not use all the power they could possibly harness.
They do crank up the intensity a good deal for “Nature of the Beast,” and it really makes you wonder why it took them so goddamn long. The into is the typical Boston style slow-and-heavy groove, but the vocals come in, and bam! It hits like a good hardcore record should: hard and often. The vocals are positively menacing, and the quick riffing makes it seem even more so. This is the power and intensity that could have fueled the entire record, and for whatever reason, Think I Care let it be somewhat of an afterthought.
The band has broken up since the release of this record, so all that’s left now is the ability to listen to “Nature of the Beast” and wonder what could have been.