In 2005, Modern Life Is War released Witness, portraying their small middle-of-nowhere town of Marshalltown, Iowa. They wrote songs about Marshalltown being a place void of any hope, a ghost town that no one could get out of. Stylistically and lyrically, Modern Life Is War turned the hardcore world upside down. Though hardcore quintet Tradition (from Cincinnati, Ohio, not Middle of Nowhere, Iowa) doesn't bear any semblance to MLIW's cathartic heavy hardcore, their new record No Home is thematically similar in that it talks about trying to beat the odds and living as a working class person in a place that offers you little opportunity to succeed. Tradition's sound would be described as melodic hardcore influenced by Lifetime and Gorilla Biscuits with a little bit of Kid Dynamite mixed in as well.
Though No Home only clocks in at 16:34, the 10 songs on No Home are all powerful and well done. The drumming is varied and recorded really well and doesn't end up feeling repetitive like many percussion sections of hardcore bands. The guitars go from conventional hardcore riffing to shredding (yes, shredding) but as far as the guitar tone goes, the listener gets a really raw and energetic feel that reaches its high point on "Cowboy Songs" and "Our Last Song." The bass is solid, but I feel like if it had been turned up in the mix the record would exude more raw power than it already does. Vocalist Jeremy sounds like a more pissed off Ari Katz as he yells about trying to help an alcoholic, being a dropout, and picking yourself up after you've fallen.
No Home is a raw and lean record that isn't beefed up with tough guy metallic breakdowns or double kick drums. Instead, Tradition packs their punch in short outbursts of hardcore rage. But they also show some versatility in two tracks that stand out on the album: "Bottom Line" and "Our Last Song." "Bottom Line" is 31 seconds and not only has the best guitar work on the album but is the angriest:
He's got the looks he's got the style, We've had enough!! Pathetic Rock Stars, we've had enough. Major label pretty boy, rich kid success story, Fuck off!"Our Last Song" is a completely different story. It is a tribute song for a friend (Ryan Black) who died tragically in a car accident. This song is intensely personal, and the gang vocals seethe with passion as they lament the loss of one of the band's good friends. This song seems to be a snapshot of Tradition's future where the band will begin to distance itself from the mandatory short hardcore song and begin to build an even more unique and interesting sound.
No Home is a breath of fresh air as far as hardcore is concerned. Tradition may be one of the many bands playing poppy hardcore, but No Home succeeds merely in not trying hard to be distinctively melodic or heavy; it's simply a natural hardcore sound, and it works in the best of ways.