Soldiers - End of Days (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


End of Days (2007)


It's 2007. Almost 2008. For all intents and purposes, our nation has been at war in some capacity for the last six years. It makes sense, then, that bands like the Warriors, Career Soldiers, Battles, Terror, the Casualties and Soldiers all put out hard-hitting releases this year as growing public disapproval mounts, and rumblings of change have been stirring up our countries' politics. Punk rock has done its part to shake things up both musically and socially, and Long Island's Soldiers have provided one of the more intense hardcore records this year.

Formed by members of This is Hell, Soldiers hit with the same unbridled might of East Coast hardcore pioneers like Agnostic Front and Sick of It All, though with a sound entirely their own. The production on End of Days is its most distinguishing characteristic, giving the guitars a metallic overtone even though there isn't really any metal riffage going on. The percussion has that "drumstick hitting a big paper bag" quality that reminds me of crust-punk like Doom and Antischism, but doesn't take anything away from the music. The vocals of "singer" Rick Jimenez erupt in angry, mildly distorted shouts that sound terribly painful on the throat. Soldiers spend the majority of their time marching at lightning speed through head-knockin' hardcore, slowing only for restrained breaks that as a rule of thumb, soon gives way to a breakneck frenzy.

The in-your-face "Own Up!," which also appeared on the band's debut EP, is laced with gang shouts, double-bass kicks, and the resonating line "I'll be the spark to the match to light this flame / I am the weapon. I'll be the instrument of truth." While exceptionally short songs are generally the fastest, most blistering tracks on an album, the 53-second "Nothing More, Nothing Less" is in contrast measured and steady, more suited for head-bobs than circle pits and ending with a verse of rap-like a cappella. On the inverse, the four-minute "The Reclamation" starts off slow but launches into one of the most frenetic drives on End of Days while Jimenez shouts "You've been given every opportunity to take a stand just for once in your life / But you wait like a snake in the grass, waiting for your time to strike / 'Be a leader, don't let them decide' / When you're a follower the view never changes / Search for the facts, open your eyes / Look around and check your influences / Now I'm turning the tide."

With U.S. military-like aggression, Soldiers have provided one of the most uncompromising hardcore albums of the year. And with members of Soldiers in a whole slew of other bands, including Ice Age, Church and State and This Is Hell, there should be no shortage of good music coming from this gang in the future.