While there aren't any photos of the dapper young gents of Bulldog Courage in the liner notes of this album, it's probably safe to say they're not the kind of folks you'd want to encounter in a poorly lit alleyway. Of course, that's only based on the testosterone-filled anthems that comprise From Heartache to Hatred, but it's hard to imagine a more telling testament than what's heard here.
For the most part, Bulldog Courage seem to come from the Blood for Blood school of hardcore that is by nature heavy, machismo, and certainly not straight-edge. Strangely though, there are some rather endearing tracks on this record, and rather than gloss over exactly what makes this album good and what makes it bad, I'm resorting to the ol' Amazon.com individual song breakdown system, beloved by amateur critics everywhere.
"Where I've Been": A fairly trite but not horrible beginning to the album; the chorus of this paint-by-numbers hardcore is "I don't know where I'm going / I sure know where I've been / I've been knocked down and broken / Every place that I've been in."
"Our Neighborhood": "This is our neighborhood / So get to steppin' if you know what's good." Yep, typical tough-guy hardcore.
"Punk Rock Princess": One of the worst hardcore songs ever! If I didn't know better, I would have thought this song was a joke. "She was fucking crazy / Yeah this bitch was mean / A punk rock princess / Queen of the fucking scene."
"American Stormtrooper": The first good song of the record. It may not be wholly original in theme (standard anti-cop anthem) but it's effective and the final sprint towards the end is packed with truculent energy.
"Old Friends Die Hard": One of the catchiest hardcore songs ever! It certainly sounds more H2O than Death Before Dishonor, but any way you compare it, it's a great song and what really makes this album worth its weight in plastic.
"All My Friends": Bulldog Courage keeps up the catchy melodies from the previous track here, and by now it's clear they've turned a corner with the bulk of the worst songs in the rearview mirror.
"Live Before I Die": Nothing spectacular, though the chorus is exceptional and the multi-tiered breakdown sounds nice.
"Blood and Whiskey": I'm not saying all hardcore has to be straight-edge or have some deeper meaning, but this song just seems like wasted space. Get it? Get it?!
"This City": With a little bit more substance than the majority of the other tracks, "This City" directly addresses the reality of urban blight in no uncertain terms and with a pretty amusing a-melodic rap part.
"The Pledge": Whoa, beatdown hardcore! For the sake of not sounding redundant, I won't repeat any of the lyrics here, but you can hear them on any Madball, Agnostic Front or Blood for Blood record.
"...Money on the Bar": I'm pretty indifferent to this song. It straddles the line between glamorizing and denouncing binge drinking and doesn't have much musically to like or dislike.
"Sucker": It's a little bit repetitive, with two sections that repeat multiple times, but other than that it's a pissed-off punk song and for that reason it's not bad.
"Always Down Never Out": This song gets a lift from non-lead vocals to help it stand out and has several breakdowns (including one standard chug-chugger) but is overall decent.
"Revenge": It's a Black Flag cover. Obviously it can't be as good as the original, but it puts a nice cap on the disc and shows that they're drawing from some of the right places.
Albany, New York's Bulldog Courage rides a rather rickety rollercoaster on From Heartache to Hatred. With a couple terrible songs, a few phenomenal numbers, and quite a bit falling somewhere between, the strength of tracks like "Old Friends Die Hard," "American Stormtrooper" and "All My Friends" push the enjoyment factor ever-so-slightly into positive territory for this release.