Dead Hearts - A Death in the Family [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dead Hearts

A Death in the Family [7-inch] (2010)

State of Mind

Remember Dead Hearts? Yeah, they were pretty good–not anything mind-blowing or groundbreaking necessarily, but a Buffalo act that played solid hardcore running the gamut from upbeat, Suicide File-style shout-alongs on their early material to Modern Life Is War-esque pensiveness on their sole full-length (2006's Bitter Verses). At their last show in 2008, they released a CD version of their last recording session, A Death in the Family, but it was limited to 100 copies and quickly sold out. State of Mind Recordings resuscitates the session by reissuing the three tracks on a 7" here, adding a newer song the band recorded later, plus a digital bonus–All Good Things Must End, a seven-song live set from CBGB initially released on a 2009 7".

The recording on A Death in the Family muffles the band's performance a shade at times, but the songs themselves definitely aren't bad. "The Spark" features the band's standard buildup and hoarse screams, while "Marathon" gets back a little more to the No Love, No Hope days. "Trip and Fall" is a chunky, dynamic number stocked with gang vocals, ultimately sounding like something from a pre-Victory With Honor. "Winter's Reign" is more Bitter Verses-esque, but some of the guitar work is a little more interesting than most of that album's typically slow, smoggy atmospheres; comparisons to fellow upstate NY act Another Breath seem warranted, though that's probably been a steady RIYL for both bands' runs.

The live set from CBGB is a solid enough amendment to the whole package. (I think including a good recording of the band's last show instead would have made more sense as a complete, final document, but to each their own.) The set's from March 2005, so unfortunately, the material comes strictly from their self-titled EP released that year (seven of its eight tracks in a fresh order). Naturally, the band sound looser and even a little scrappier than on that record, and banter is kept to a minimum (they give a little background to "Small Town Tragedy", offering a comparison between New York City and their hometown of Buffalo). They kick it off with the intro-style "In Our Hands, Once Again", and barely let up from there, kicking up standouts like "Heart Shaped Coffin" and the pretty-much-a-Black Flag-tribute "Breakdown".

If you never liked Dead Hearts, A Death in the Family is highly unlikely to change your mind. But if you miss this "relic" from a mid-aughts hardcore act that definitely stood out a bit in that crowded field, it's a nice little package.

A Death in the Family