Listening to Killing Time's latest release reminds me of two things. First it reminds me of why I am not the biggest fan of hardcore, or at least the old school sort of hardcore. Secondly, it reminds me of why I should make the effort to get into it. Both sides of the coin have their pros and cons. However, I am fairly positive that heads will ultimately win out, meaning I will never be much of a hardcore fan. There are just too many elements that work against what I like in my music. I will say that fans of old school hardcore, or those interested in the sound's roots will want to give Three Steps Back a good listen. It is the most "old school" sounding major release I think I have ever heard.
If I did not know any better, I would have pegged Three Steps Back as a legitimate release from the1980s. The album has a raw, unproduced sound to it, almost as if they set up in a studio and proceeded to pound out the songs live in one take—in and out in true do-it-yourself fashion. As commendable as this is, with a band sticking to their roots and doing it their way, the result is exactly what I don't really care for.
I am sure to get blasted by fans for this, but so be it. I am not above admitting my tastes tend to go in a different direction than this music. At the same time, I am listening to it and discovering some elements to like about it. This falls alongside much of punk music, another genre that usually does not agree with me (though there are always exceptions). I remember in my younger days I would say punk and hardcore were the genres where those who could not play their instruments would hide. You see, to my ears it never sounded like they could do that much with them.
These thoughts of bands hiding their lack of ability in these genres has died off as the music has grown and developed over the years. I have also realized that there is something more to these genres than I was giving it credit for. Killing Time points their fist in just the right direction. And while the music is not so much about technical ability or the skill to play lots of notes really fast, it is much more strongly focused on the raw-energy quotient, looking for the audience participation.
It does not take long to discover the latent energy in this music. Three Steps Back does not waste any time getting right to the point, commanding your attention lest you get punched upside your head. The song is "Flight Plan" and it has a vintage hardcore and punk sound that finds the band at full strength even after a more than ten-year hiatus. The hardcore edge becomes even more apparent in the next track, "Spaceheater."
Also in old school fashion, this record spares no time getting going and does not waste a moment getting to the point and getting gone. The twelve-song collection is done in less than half an hour. None of the songs cross the three-minute mark with most hovering around two and a half minutes or under.
When it comes right down to it, you cannot mark me down among their fans. Perhaps my relationship could be better considered as respect from afar. I respect them for doing what they do and inspiring a good crop of today's hardcore acts, including Hatebreed (which is one that I do like, although their sound has gotten more metallic over the years). I just do not really care for this sound, but the fans are out there and I am sure they will want to get their hands on this.
Bottomline. Killing Time fans are going to love this dose of new music after so many years of nothing (and it's not like their catalog wasn't limited already). This is a band that knows where they came from and has not strayed from the formula. I will be counted among the respect-giving masses, but I just won't be in the crowd.