Fifty On Red - Fifty On Red (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Fifty On Red

Fifty On Red (2005)

Dead And Gone / Zandor

If I was a betting man, I can't say that I'd wager much on the possibility of British hardcore export Fifty On Red hitting it big stateside. Dead And Gone Records are taking that chance anyhow, and it's up to the rest of us to decide their payoff. It's not really that big a gamble if you think about it; bands like Bane and With Honor bring their old-school hardcore flair to the masses, and manage to meet a sizeable reception. So it's not a complete shot in the dark; the label isn't going all in with a 7 2 offsuit; they've got some pocket 9's to play around with.

Leaving blast beats and breakdowns at the door, Fifty On Red hit hard with their brand of old-school, singalong hardcore, the difference with this release decidedly being the vocals. Bands like the aforementioned thrive on the participation of the show-going population, and a lot of that depends on being able to understand and subsequently relate to just what the vocalist is singing about. Therein lies the problem I have with this self-titled effort: It's that the vocals are of less than acceptable quality. It's not an issue of production, more of the vocals being overly scruffy, and incomprehensible.

Down but not out, mistakes -- so many made / Did you see the error in your ways? / Take a step back, swallow your pride / You fucked this up, now pay the price.
Those lyrics belong to "You'll Never Learn," but you'd never know it, because the only words able to be made out are the gang vocals that adorn many of these tracks. Those gang vocals are really this album's lifeline, as nothing else is overly impressive.

Maybe that's not the aim, though. This type of hardcore has always been much better suited for a live setting, where the band thrives off the energy of its audience than a recording studio. That's not to say there's none here; the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are all chock full of intensity, sincerity, and conviction, but it still just seems like little more than a retread. The rhythms are right, and the guitars relentless, but I can't bring myself to get past those vocals. They're not unmistakable by any means, but they also don't fit in with this typical style. It's not necessary to adhere to a set of guidelines as to how a band should sound, but it's enough to tell something here is off.

Unfortunately for the band, that's what comes down to being the make or break point. The other elements are soundly in place, but those scruffy vocals throw everything off course and hinder what may have been a worthwhile hardcore record. I'll keep my money off the betting tables this time, because this album is a losing endeavor.