By Forrest M.
New York based punk band Backtrack first broke into the hardcore seen with the 2009 e.p. “Deal with the Devil”. Upon its release, Deal with the Devil received immediate praise from punk critics and members of the hardcore seen. Their unique blend of New York style riffs as well as hard hitting lyrics left listeners wanting to prowl the streets in search of trouble.
The band’s latest L.p. was released in late 2011 and is titled “Darker Half”. The album takes everything that the band did right with Deal with the Devil and amplifies it and corrects any faults. The album starts off extremely strong, with tracks such as “Worst of both Worlds” and “Life’s plan”. Vocalist James Vitallo has an extremely unique voice for a hardcore band, making the lyrics he screams all the more memorable. Lyrics such as “I face the worst of both worlds every place that I turn”, and “trapped in this life without a plan” are forever seared into my memory as they ride perfectly tuned riffs into hardcore heaven.
The album continues with such strong songs as “Violent Split”, “The Greater Good”, and “Scratch the Past”. These are some of my personal favorite songs on the album, mainly because they perfect mold together some amazing riffs, breakdowns, and vocals. They also manage to deal with themes such as lies, becoming sick of the world you inhabit, as well as dealing with past mistakes. Often a hardcore band will try to touch on themes other than just anger and aggression, but with these tracks, as well as the rest of the album, Backtrack manages to hit a new high for a hardcore band.
Some of the strongest songs on Darker Half reside of the second half of the album, extremely heavy tracks such as “Darker Half”, “Erase the Rat”, and “Soul Sucker”. Darker Half is an extremely good single for the album since it perfectly encompasses the theme of the album- dealing with who you are the things that make you who you are, mostly the things the make you angry. Erase the Rat is without a doubt one of the heaviest songs on the album and perfectly encompasses the albums aggressive themes. When you hear Vitallo yell “You’ve been dead in my heart, so why won’t you die in my eyes!?” you know that this album is one of the best hardcore releases of the last five years.
Darker Half is one of the best hardcore albums I’ve ever heard. With a perfect blend of memorable riffs and lyrics. It is a truly amazing album that puts Backtrack up on the level of other legendary hardcore bands such as Bane, Have Heart, or Integrity.