Heartfelt - Take It or Leave It (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Take It or Leave It (2007)


I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it sort of silly that a genre called hardcore seems to be so fleeting, with bands forming and often breaking up with minimal recorded output and shows, or maybe that is a testament to the genre's resiliency: No matter what faces may change in the end, it still remains. Heartfelt are a band from the Netherlands who as I'm reviewing this, are already broken up. With two EPs, this full-length serves as the band's final testament, and Take It or Leave It is sort of how I feel about it.

The band describes their sound as late `80s hardcore meets `90s-style skatepunk, but I'd say the emphasis tends to lean more to the former partially due to the vocalist's Ray Cappo tendencies, like carrying on the last syllable of his words with an overdrawn growl. Songs like "Stairs" and "Too Old" cover familiar youth crew topics of straight-edge people growing out of hardcore. A lot of the humour and melodicism I'd associate with `90s skatepunk, however, tends to be rather absent as the lyrical approach tends to be rather consistently serious and any melody tends to be relegated to the occasional breakdown or guitar intro. On paper, that sonic combination sounds fairly good (possibly Kid Dynamite-ish?). In practice, though, a more balanced approach is required because songs like "Deceased" show it can be successfully pulled off but it is the exception rather than the rule in this case.

Hearfelt have what seems to be a rather common problem for bands with their first release and that is pacing with regards to their track list. Songs that are more melodic, songs that follow youth crew convention and songs that adhere to classic skatepunk progressions tend to be lumped together that can give the listener a false sense of stagnation which isn't really there because the band actually has a good grasp of how to have writing with some breadth in their genre.

So shall we take or leave it? (Oooooo I'm bad! I'm bad! You know I'm bad!). That isn't an easy question to answer because Heartfelt have certainly written a competent collection of songs with a lot of heart but some of the songs tend to lack lasting power as I find myself looking for that exceptionally catchy riff or anthemic bit of gang vocal to crop up for far too long. It is a respectable release and a good pick up for anyone who is a fan of melodic hardcore that doesn't succumb to the straight up pop-punk of bands like Set Your Goals.