Forget the major labels. After parting ways with Island/Def Jam and going back to their own White Drugs, they’re louder, sharper, wittier and more insolent than ever. Forget the hipster slickness of Silverlake or the fake glitz of Hollywood. The Bronx have taken their grittiness and shit-eating grinningness straight out of the Valley to give L.A. and the music cognoscenti a swift kick in the ass. They’re punk, they’re hardcore and they’re metal all at once. So much speed and adrenaline almost makes my heart explode.
Crunchy raw, Matt Caughthran’s vocals are as blistering as ever on III, the third offering from the Bronx. Clearly, no other vocation is better suited to Caughtran, the leader of this band of roughnecks with that telltale punk-rock glint in their eyes. Opener “Knifeman” has all the balls of a butcher on meth, the chorus riff a big sharp meat hook slinging you headlong into the rest of the record. “Inveigh” is a circle pit of bloody noses and flailing arms with a breather in the middle for a much-needed wiping of the forehead and a swig of beer. “Past Lives” could be on a split 7-inch with Herrema’s RTX and it’d be hard to tell who was who — it’s easy to see the punkishly metal hardcore riff-raff is alive and well in Los Angeles. By the time we get to “Spanish Handshake,” with its addicts and animals, the sweat’s been pouring and the eardrums are bleeding.
This album is the sound of just scraping by with a shitty job but not letting it get you down because there’s more than enough beer and guitars to make life worthwhile. Maybe in the next life or maybe in another world, but for right now the Bronx are right now. Welcome back, boys. We missed you.