Hardcore punk should be one of the most exciting and urgent styles of music in the world, where every double kick drum beat should provide more substance than other artists can provide in a full album. This need for sensation that makes it far worse for a hardcore record to simply be ‘okay’ than terrible. Unfortunately for South London five-piece Lay It On the Line, it’s difficult to say anything more about their debut album ‘The Black Museum’ apart from ‘it’s okay.’
An indictment like this isn’t fun to make, as Lay It On the Line have persevered numerous lineup changes and personal issues as described in ‘A Serious House on Serious Earth’ to get to the release of this album, but considering this record a standout in a stellar year of hardcore releases would feel disingenuous.
Needless to say, ‘The Black Museum’ does present a selection of competently written melodic hardcore songs fuelled by a fiery aggression brought on by vocalists Alice Hour and Mike Scott, who rip their way through the uncompromising bursts of speed on opener ‘Level Up’ and ‘120 Days’ with a heightened confrontation, while tracks like ‘Serious House’ and ‘Oreo Speedwagon’ ushers in more melody to their performance with a sense of menace, which makes for interesting listening.
However, the impact of the vocalists’ is marred by the rigid performance of the rest of Lay It On the Line, who spend most of their time rehashing Bane riffs. And while this should be an enticing prospect for hardcore fans, it’s hard to feel any anticipation for a variation on the genre that felt cutting edge a decade ago. There’s a good chance songs from ‘The Black Museum’ will slay live, but on record, it’s a perfectly decent performance of a musical style that should be nothing less than 100% in the thrill department.
‘The Black Museum’ by Lay It On the Line is out now via Disconnect Disconnect Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)