108 - 18.61 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


18.61 (2010)


The details behind the creation of 108's 18.61 remain somewhat obscured, and that seems unfortunate for the gossip circles of hardcore. The album was originally recorded back in February 2009 (under the title Forever Is Destroyed), so it would have presumably been released a sensible two years after the band's stunning comeback LP, A New Beat from a Dead Heart. But here we are, in the front half of 2010, and the record is finally unleashed amid the band's second breakup--check that, their decision to stay the course without long-time original frontman Rob Fish. Either way, it looks like the band will hit the road eventually to get the proper promo rolling on it. After the major pushback and internal confusion, how does the actual album hold up?

Well, relatively well. 18.61 is by no means a "bad" album--it's just very strange within the context of the band's progression, and perhaps a little shunted in the songwriting department. This album actually sounds more like it would have come out in the late '90s just prior to their first breakup and maybe a few years after the band's peak, 1996's Threefold Misery: the production is grainier and noticeably rougher than New Beat, perhaps due to the newer environment of Give Up the Ghost drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera's handling of it at the all-analog Mystic Valley Studios; the band's delivery is more erratic; and in tempo, mode and otherwise, they veer off wildly in all directions without restraint--it's at once the record's blessing and curse.

Minute-long opener "God Talk" finds Fish spitting off lines about the flimsiness and shallowness surrounding respective treatment of spiritual inclination over abrupt, spazzy stop-starts before "Crescent Moon" unreels a furious steam release that's not much longer. The metallic edge to the band's hollow, manically brow-beating hardcore rears its head harder in the title track and and  "Reduced," though it's in a roundabout, ragged and loose way. "Ashes/Dust" is the best "heavy" song on the record, adding a layer of fuzz and complexity not heard often enough, while its followup, "Forever Is Destroyed," demands attention at its start with Fish's howl coming on only over drums before the track adds everything else and moves into a sludgy but still fierce, mid-tempo pacing.

Without five-minute closer "Early Funeral," 18.61 doesn't even surpass the 20-minute mark. It's a sign of 108's newfound brevity and conciseness, but those traits haven't necessarily made the band any better--just more compact, really. Speaking of "Early Funeral," it's actually an acoustic track, with crisp chords and various layers at the forefront and Fish singing hushedly against the back. It's definitely an interesting sidestep for the band--at least until the end when Fish's repetitive play on "die" begins to resemble Jason Segel's "Dracula's Lament."

Although it's only come about that way by circumstance, 18.61 is surely a transitional album for 108. While it blows by a bit undiscernibly for a band that's always made its mark by stark dynamics, it has its moments and certainly its place in 108's odd but storied evolution.

God Talk
Forever Is Destroyed