With Honor - With Honor (Cover Artwork)

With Honor

With Honor (2003)


As vocalist Todd Mackey raises the challenge, "Stand up and be something more!", an emotion I haven't felt in a long time wells up inside. It's raw motivation, idealistic at its core, and it takes me back to a time when hardcore was something more than angry rants about broken edges and back-stabbing friends.

On paper it sounds nothing short of naive - the kind of idealism you have before you realize that the scene is full of dickheads - but the conscious power of With Honor shines through with amazing sincerity. The lyrics press upon you a consideration for your actions, and cause you to remember just why you bothered to get involved with the hardcore scene in the first place. The band seems to ask, if it's not the atmosphere of a show, the helping hand in the pit or the raw connection of two like-minded individuals superceeding false divisions like belief, race and nation, then what is it? Are the walls we build, not just within the hardcore scene, but with society at large, worth it? And if not, then just what the fuck are we doing to ourselves?

Where most scream/sung vocals are dichotomized into distinct passages (ie. the nu-metallish underpinnings of the latest Poison The Well record), Mackey manages to sing, shout and scream in a unified front. This talent or simple voice characteristic is sincere to the bone, and makes the lyrics even more poignant to the listener. There is certainly no choreographed emotion on this release, and I challenge anyone to marginalize just one song with a straight face.

Musically, I could almost mistake With Honor for a punk band. It's not until the first breakdown and subsequent gang vocals hit that you realize this is 100%, straight-up hardcore. Offering a mix-platter of straight-ahead melody and a tinge of mosh-metal, the blistering speed characterizing most of the EP's 11 minutes showcases not only some amazing drumming, but an element of chaos always on the verge of demolishing the tightness of With Honor's music. If the band can capture just a fraction of the intensity on this recording, they must put on one hell of a show.

For better or for worse, everyone has an opinion on what direction the hardcore scene has been taking of late. In my mind, With Honor is just another reminder, confirmation - nay, promise - of the good times we can have. The next show, roadtrip or new friend from another city... fuck man, "these are our times - let's make them fucking last".