Angel Du$t - A.D. (Cover Artwork)

Angel Du$t

A.D. (2014)

REACT! Records

Supergroups never live up to their expectations. Nine times out of ten, they just fail to sound as musically interesting or as enjoyable as their main bands. Take the Baltimore based hardcore group Angel Du$t for example. The bandmembers hail from hardcore groups such as youth crew revivalists Mindset, metalcore punks Trapped Under Ice and groovy, hardcore kids in Turnstile. With the kind of hardcore pedigree that entails, you'd think Angel Du$t would be able to produce a veritable tour de force with their debut album A.D.. Unfortunately, A.D. falls far far short in terms expectations, sounding less like Angel Du$ts' parent bands and more like a pastiche of everything predictable about hardcore.

A.D. sounds like it time warped to the future from 1984 rather than 2014. The vocalist sounds like he's doing his best Keith Morris impression for 90% of the album, and the guitarist seems content to play at the exact same tempo for literally every song. Everything seems to just zip by you at the same pace, leaving absolutely no lasting impression whatsoever. It just all sounds so middle of the road and derivative, that it's hard to get excited about anything on A.D.. There's none of the brutal intensity that you get from Trapped Under Ice's records, none of the funky Leeway throwbacks that Turnstile feature. The lack of any major elements of elements of the modern hardcore scene put it in an awkward position when compared to the majority of albums released nowadays. It's all well and good to stick to traditions, but when you just recycle outdated codes and conventions from years past without bringing anything new to the table, it just sounds tiresome and cliché.

"Smash You Up" starts off promising enough, delivering some killer riffage and fret tapping to get you all pumped up. The most enjoyable tracks on the album are arguably the ones where Angel Du$t deviate from their established formula. The eerie synthesizer outro on "Smash You Up", the acoustic guitar mixed with major chords on "Big One" and the Cro-Mags-esque riff work on "Pacify Me" are some of the best points on the album. "Set Me Up" is a decent song, that channels the youth crew aggression of Mindset quite well but it's too little too late, coming smack bang at the end of the album. Everything else just sounds like Angel Du$t listened to the first 5 minutes of Group Sex and thought they just stretch that out for another 10. A.D.'s short length is its saving grace however, as it starts to grow old even before the album is over.

If you're a fan of mindless hardcore that does nothing to challenge your expectations in any way, shape or form, you'll probably get a kick out of A.D. Truth be told, they aren't a terrible band by any means, but they're just held back so much by the limitations of their sound that it's frustrating. Unlike a band like OFF!, whose predictably spartan 80's hardcore makes sense given their age and context, it's just baffling to see these scene stalwarts making music so basic and mind-numbing music. If this had been released 30 years ago, it would probably be the kind of decent record you'd see making the rounds on critic's "Best of the 80's" lists, but in 2015 it sounds far too played out and uninventive. There's absolutely nothing on this record which you haven't already heard done before in the past few decades.