Regional Justice Center - Institution (Cover Artwork)

Regional Justice Center

Institution (2019)

Triple B Records

Music can express any number of feelings or ideas through its creation. Art is often an outlet for life’s incommunicable challenges. This is definitely true for Regional Justice Center, from name to musical execution to the band’s imagery. The brainchild of Ian Shelton, Regional Justice Center is comprised of a rotating cast of musicians that make up the Seattle and Los Angeles hardcore collective. It was conceived in the wake of Shelton’s younger brother’s arrest as an expression of the pain that permeates relationships when dealing with a loved one’s incarceration.

Regional Justice Center thoroughly explored these themes on last year’s World of Inconvenience from an interpersonal perspective. On their Triple B Records debut Institution, they tackle the self-perpetuating prison industrial complex as an institution with its own center of gravity. Institution takes their hardcore and powerviolence foundation and brings in bursts of groove-oriented riffs and larger dynamics.

With a total running time of under six minutes, Institution is here and gone before you realize it, but it doesn’t prevent Regional Justice Center from demonstrating many hues of heaviness. Halfway through the EP, “Medication” opens up with an industrial and raspy bassline before finishing off in some slower Cro-Mags riffage. That same groove can be found interspersed between the blast beats that drive opener “Dismantled.” The opener also manages to sneak in a big rock riff.

Institution brings a cleaner production style to the band. It allows the indecipherable anger to come through more than on their previous releases. It’s impossible to miss the desperation on “It Only Gets Worse” which ends with Shelton screaming “It doesn’t get better” before the music drops out entirely letting the title escape Shelton’s mouth in anguish. There is a similar effect on closer “Institution” before guitar feedback sends the listener off.

Institution demonstrates growth in Regional Justice Center’s sound to maximize the harrowing nature of its existence. The release is a solid teaser for Regional Justice Center fans and how the band can grow if given the space.