Shelter - When 20 Summers Pass (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


When 20 Summers Pass (2000)


In between pioneering the youth crew movement of the late '80s with Youth of Today and helping ignite the youth crew revival of the late 1990s with Better Than a Thousand, Ray Cappo formed Shelter in 1991 as an outlet for his Hare Krishna ideals and a path to a more melodic form of hardcore punk.

Releasing a small library of 7-inches, cassettes, EPs and full-lengths, Shelter has concurrently embraced sugary pop-punk and melodic hardcore anthems that faithfully espouse their Hare Krishna and straight-edge principles of mind and body purity. In 2000 the band released When 20 Summers Pass, which follows the same general pattern but does so in stunning fashion, blending positivity with introspection, spirituality with Earthly struggles, and above all, lays down some of the catchiest melodies hardcore has heard.

"In the Van Again" packs some pop-punk punch early, describing the touring routine and sacrifices of the lifestyle: "I traded in university / For this backseat and poverty / But this whole time I've felt more free / And learned more in the end." "Don't Walk Away" carries along the catchy tunes while "Public Eye" expresses the frustration of having private matters run through the gossip mill, perhaps in reference to Cappo's so-called "breaking edge" by having a glass of wine on tour in Italy and the subsequent furor that followed within the straight-edge hardcore scene. Over the razor-sharp guitar work of frequent collaborator John Porcelly, "Song of Brahma" confronts violence in the hardcore scene, and the endlessly catchy "If There's Only Today" promotes the universal principle modern spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle have risen to prominence advocating.

The only song that doesn't fall in line with the catchy hardcore of the rest of the album is the grungy confessional "Crushing Someone You Love," which sounds more like Nirvana than H2O. It's still a decent song, but it sticks out like a sore thumb among the fluid popcore of tracks like "Look Away" and "Loss Disguised as Gain."

While some will undoubtedly scoff at the unconcealed spirituality of Shelter, there is a depth of rhetoric and clarity that transcends lifestyle lines. You don't have to be Hare Krishna to enjoy When 20 Summers Pass. Heck, you don't even need to be straight-edge to appreciate whatever the driving force was behind this outstanding album. An open mind and an ear for catchy melodies are all it should take.