Bloodclot - Up In Arms (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Up In Arms (2017)

metal blade

Bloodclot actually pre-dates the Cro-Mags. The seeds for the band were planted in the early 80’s when future Cro-Mags singer John Joseph (sometimes John Bloodclot or John Skinhead) was a roadie for the Bad Brains. It was the brainchild of Joseph and guitarist Todd Youth (Warzone, Agnostic Front, Murphy’s Law, Danzig), but never really fully materialized. An earlier version even featured Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains on bass and DH Peligro of Dead Kennedys on drums. The project was eventually put on the back burner as both Joseph and Youth went on to become NYHC legends in other bands.

While the rhythm section has changed, Bloodclot is still a hardcore supergroup. On Up In Arms, Joseph and Youth are joined by bassist Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dwarves, Kyuss, Mondo Generator) and drummer Joey Castillo (Wasted Youth, Danzig, QotSA, Sugartooth). Either the lineup or the current state of the world really seems to have inspired JJ. This is by far the most passionate that he’s been in years. The lyrics are angry and aware, political and personal. The music is metallic, driving hardcore mixed with a bit of classic punk. Think maybe Poison Idea or Battalion of Saints.

The four minute title track opens the record and sets the tone with the lyric “If business is death/Business is booming”. The rest of the songs are shorter, but no less intense. All of Youth’s riffs are razor sharp, and he manages to avoid most of the tough guy tendencies associated with NYHC. For example, the frantic “Manic” has a breakdown at the end that features a bluesy solo instead of the more expected palm muted guitar chugging. “Kill the Beast” might be the fastest thing on the record. It’s a minute and a half of unbridled rage. On “Prayer”, JJ makes a simple but powerful statement about his Hare Krishna faith. “Life as One” offers the traditional hardcore message of unity. “Slow Kill Genocide” and album closer “You’ll Be the Death of Me” are almost melodic thrash.

Up In Arms is an excellent record. It’s intelligent, aggressive and in your face. It compares favorably to the best Cro-Mags albums. It might make you wonder why it didn’t end up as a Cro-Mags album. The name alone probably would have helped move more units. Maybe Joseph was looking for a new start, but this is so much better than Alpha-Omega (1992), Near Death Experience (1993) or Revenge (2000). If this were a Cro-Mags album, it would be the third best in their discography after only the brilliant Age of Quarrel (1986) and the Harley Flanagan fronted Best Wishes (1989). It took Bloodclot to make a record worthy of the Cro-Mags name. You should buy this.