That Was Then - Troublemakers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

That Was Then

Troublemakers (2006)

Armada in Flames

With such an influx of hardcore bands hastily writing, recording, and releasing full-length albums before anyone outside of their parents basements even know who they are, I have felt an increased appreciation for the EP. Or, more specifically, bands who relegate their first CD release to that format.

Memphis troublemakers That Was Then have unwittingly exemplified my point, as their highly charged six-song EP is the perfect introduction to their frantic hardcore sound.

The guitars rage, the drums pound, the bass thumps, and the vocals tear through the EP's 18 minutes in a fluid and powerful fashion. Wasting absolutely no time, the five-piece roars through the gate with "While I Breathe, I Hope." It may start out in a rather slow fashion, with simple fills and simple riffs, but both quickly escalate until the vocal cord-shredding delivery of Jerry Woe enters the fray, turning the entire song completely upside down. A brief guitar interlude leads Woe into the song, and his energetic presence is a kick in the ass to the rest of the band, who don't hesitate to kick up the speed and power of their playing.

"Treading Water," while almost a minute longer in duration, has seemingly even more energy and kick than the previous song did, and this is especially noticeable in the instrumentation. The guitar rhythms rock back and forth while Woe's vocals cascade violently above it all, only pausing briefly for a quick and full burst of gang vocals, or for a quick guitar bridge to piece together the different sections of the song. That guitar work is rather varied for a hardcore record, and it's one of the real driving forces behind all of the energy and conviction that the band can muster.

Before you even know it, the EP has come to an end. The title track, "Troublemakers" is ushered in by way of some terrific drum fills, but is quickly taken over by the vocals and buzzsaw riffs that rip through the amps with reckless abandon. A quick sample is found in the middle of the song, playing over some low riffing, until the vocals come back for the repeated shouts of "we are troublemakers / and you pray for our lungs to collapse" carry the song to its conclusion.

The talent and intensity of this band is maybe slightly understated by this effort, but make no mistake, they're a group with the skill and energy to carry them far, far into the scene.