Westgate - Afire (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Afire (2003)

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Westgate. The name sounds metal, the album title sounds metal, the art looks metal. Are they metal? What you get has metal leanings, but comes out sounding like Lifetime meets the Bled. Take the driving punk of the New Jersey legends and even the punchy "I have a cold" singing style, but often crescendo that singing into bloodcurdling screams. Throw in the occasional Thrice style metal riff and there you have it. Afire is this Philadelphia act's first release I believe, a long EP at about 25 minutes with eight songs.

The first track "Stones Throw" is what led me to believe they would be Thrice wannabes, with a lead guitar part under the verse's screaming, but the EP ends up overall on the less complicated side of hardcore, with those tech guitar parts only surfacing a few times. "Four Count Murder," sounds especially Lifetime, and is my pick for best track. It is straightforward but powerful, with doubletime punk that breaks down and then builds to the shout-along "You're no threat to me!" to end it. Those lyrics are typical of the EP, the aggressive angry words you'd expect from a band like this. The rest of the songs on the EP are more of the same.

The songs are adequately supported by the musicianship and recording quality (recorded by Nick Rotundo who has done Boy Sets Fire and None More Black), and it's a solid spin with no real stinkers. While this disc made for a good listen, I'd put it behind other more interesting rising hardcore acts such as the abovementioned The Bled and Every Time I Die, but with the right support Westgate may start showing up alongside those bands in the press. Westgate isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before, but at least they do it well enough to be worth a listen.