March 19, 2002
TRIAL BY FIRE [I]RINGING IN THE DAWN[/I] REVIEW
Restless, angry, and mostly scared, I am driving down Lake Underhill Road with my two newly adopted cats, Sasha and Nico (my wife thought they looked Russian!), in the front seat. They are sitting quietly in their "Pet Taxi," oblivious to where I am taking them, and to what they are about to be subjected to. My wife and I suspect Sasha is very ill.
We think, being the untrained vets that we are, she has some sort of stomach ailment. Or worse! One spot on her belly has swelled to the size of a gumball. Considering last October our beloved cat had died of kidney failure at the age of 15, we are both anxious, and overly cautious.
Attempting to scratch my way out of the funk I am in, I put on some music designed to lighten the mood: The Beach Boys. I don't really know what I was thinking. I thought it would help, but it only helped me spiral into a deeper depression coupled with angry fits.
Remembering a mid-'80s scientific report that suggested listening to music that is analogous to your current mood and not the one you want to be in, I decide to try out the CD that Ink 19 sent to me to review. It is the debut of DC hardcore punks, Trial By Fire.
Great, this will cheer me up!
The initial pounding by drummer Mike Sneeringer startles Sasha and Nico from their stupor. But as cats are, they quickly settle back into their curled sleep. I, on the other hand, am immediately taken by the ferocious energy. The first track, "Test Pattern," is typical of most punk songs: it clocks in at just over one minute, 30 seconds.
I want more, damn it! I want out of this funk!
So, I turn up the volume and wait -- and I am not disappointed. "To Whom It May Redeem" is a great hardcore song full of intelligent rage. It is followed by more of the same: short, politically charges punk songs. Bassist Keven Lamiell holds together the relentless rage of Sneeringer while Collin Barth (guitar/vocals) and Jason Yawn (vocals/guitar) bash through the melody and rage with great force.
One of the more timely songs, "Point an Inward Finger," ignites more anger in me with lyrics such as: "Take up your cross! Ignore the cause/Your innocence has long been lost/Achieve with no thought of the cost/No one is safe when there's money to be made!"
By the time I turned into the vet's office, I was feeling much, much better. Unfortunately, the anxiety and anger returned as I prepared myself to hear the difficult news as both played on the cold, white floor of the examination room.
Thankfully, my wife and I are just as neurotic as we believe. Sasha will be fine. The lump was caused from an allergic reaction to the sutures installed during her neutering.
On the way home, I replayed the disc to be sure I enjoyed it as much as I thought I had, and that my mood didn't affect my appreciation. I rediscovered the power of music over mood as countless idiots cut me off, or otherwise endangered my precious cargo.
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