New Mexican Disaster Squad - Don't Believe (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

New Mexican Disaster Squad

Don't Believe (2006)

Jade Tree

At the end of Lifetime's "What She Said," there is a voice sample that claims "…it isn't even what she says, it's how she does things." In a way, the exact opposite can often be used in the context of hardcore punk. Things like subtlety, clever wordplay and poeticism are often eschewed in favour of focusing on the underlying message and passion behind the music. For better or worse, that appears to be the ethos behind New Mexican Disaster Squad's Don't Believe. The lyrics aren't mindless shit-talking to say the least and they are presented in a pretty literate fashion, such as on "Pulse:" "Things happen when you go to sleep, wide awake in a lucid nightmare, no line between, reality and dreams."

For those of you that have never heard NMDS, they take elements of melody in a similar fashion to Strike Anywhere while paying homage to their `80s forefathers a bit like Kid Dynamite. If there is a standout strength the band has in their music it is their vocal arrangements. At times, vocalist Sam's throaty rasp is contrasted with melodic backup whoa-ohs ("The Piggy Bank's Gone, Nick!," "Tightrope") or a utilization of trade-off shouts ("9 Kinds of Hell"), while other times the lead and backup vocals are layered atop each other ("Heads with You"). At points I find myself waiting for that insanely catchy chorus or that irresistible melody that I'll be humming for weeks, but it doesn't really come. Yet, when NMDS find the perfect combination of aggression, melody and `80s influences, such as the blistering "Tightrope," everything really clicks together for a memorable listen. Lasting around half an hour over 14 tracks, they keep the songs short and the pace fast so everything flows well, just how a hardcore record should be. although on "Bullshit Detector" NMDS are even able to pull off a slow-tempo hardcore song with surprising success.

Overall, New Mexican Disaster Squad have created a cohesive album that stays brief and to the point. Through variety on both the vocal and musical ends (such as the solo on "Coughing Up Blood"), the band is able to prevent the album from blurring together. This might not end up on year-end lists, but it is a consistently strong release that will warrant repeated listens. Plus, all bands should take note that goofy looking pictures of you or perhaps a sullen looking woman staring into the distance do not constitute engaging artwork. NMDS use a vibrant coloured tiger amidst a severed limb and some funky clouds as an appropriate alternative.