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SQUARE UP - First Round ... Thrashpunx

Release date January 7, 2020 (Wise Grinds Records)

This is the first full-length from L.A.'s Square Up, although the band have released numerous E.P.s over the last four years. As Thrashpunx indicates, these boys are a crossover thrash band, although they definitely fall on the punk side of the equation. The 20 songs clocking in at half an hour are all short bursts of hardcore aggression, not meant for the faint of heart.

Bassist/vocalist Charlie Chavez can be described as using a punk-shout vocal style, but in reality, he is screaming, like someone yelling a comment to a friend at a really noisy show. Perhaps Chavez is simply trying to be heard over the din, but there is little to recommend in his efforts, even by those of us who consider Wattie Buchan of The Exploited to be a great crooner. He might want to tone it down a tad on future efforts.

The production is sub-par, with little differentiation between the bass and Jess Padilla's guitar. Allan Rodriguez handles the drums ably, at least as far as can be discerned amid the cacophony.

The real problem with this release is the indifferent song writing. The intensity is there, but once it is over, even after multiple listens, try to hum any part of any song you just listened to and see if you can remember any of it. The music is enjoyable enough for anyone who is into extreme hardcore, but when it is over, it is gone from your brain instantly. I have not listened to S.O.D.'s Speak English or Die album in quite a few years, but I can still remember every song. It is possible to be noisy, aggressive and catchy at the same time. Maybe Square Up should break out their old D.R.I. albums to remind themselves how it is done, before they write their next album.

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