THE AGGRAVATED: Whole 9 Yards
Release year: 2022
Label: D-Fens Records
When a band from the US approaches us by describing their music as hardcore “on the old school side of things”, they’ve got my interest. As far as punk rock is concerned, I’m definitely an oi! kind of guy – the straight-laced boots, flight jacket and shaved head give that much away on first sight – but I’ve never scoffed at good ole US hardcore, either.
Because, the way I see it, old school USHC is to a great extent beefed up oi!. The sound is different, the heart is the same. I’m in no way inclined to change my opinion listening to The Aggravated from Atlanta, Georgia, and their third album Whole 9 Yards.
Lacing their abrasive, in-your-face hardcore pounding with liberal amounts of metallic elements, The Aggravated have plenty of crossover appeal. There’s more than one moment on the album when especially the guitars go over into thrash territory, giving the heavy thug rock an added razor sharp edge. With vocals that spit rage and vitriol, and a heavy-as-fuck type of sound that truly amplifies the confrontational music, The Aggravated manage to mix in metal into their music without sacrificing any of the hardcore spirit.
Considering the description I’ve given above, you’re probably not all that surprised when I say that one thing Whole 9 Yards doesn’t have too much of is originality. It’s heavy, it’s metallic, but essentially it’s old school tough guy USHC. Lyrics about being on the butt end of life and society, of the decline of American values, but also of friendship and loyalty delivered with chugging riffs heavy enough to smash rocks and vocals that feel like an lead pipe… well, it’s a tried and true recipe!
So yeah, pretty safe to say that if you take your favourite classic tough guy USHC act and add “with a lot of metal in it” to the description, you’ve got an idea of what The Aggravated sounds like. Nothing new under the sun.
But, lack of originality notwithstanding – and I do think it is a very, very minor issue – Whole 9 Yards is a strong album. It’s got everything one could ask from an album of this ilk: aggression, catchiness, straightforward shoutalong choruses, and heavy mid-tempo sections to stomp your boots to. All delivered with tight, focused musicianship and a sound that packs a punch.
I guess this type of old school hardcore isn’t really a rare commodity these days; seems to me like there are acts both new and old keeping the style alive and kicking. But it doesn’t really matter if the are one, none or a hundred acts doing more or less the same thing. The Aggravated have what it takes that people – yes, including you! – should pay attention.