The quaint county of Dorset is probably the last place in the UK one would expect a forward thinking hardcore band to emerge from. But it seems all the boredom and banalities of living in a dead end town have been channelled into creating music that is visceral and direct yet endearing and poignant. One of Lockjaw Records’ new and exciting little hardcore punk prospects, Donnie Brasco are a band brimming with potential. Opener Loose Ends has clear indications of the bands influences in fellow hardcore progressive types Defeater as well as many of the so-called ‘Wave’ bands of US modern hardcore. For the most part, this album is more of a tip of the hat to those bands rather than an attempt to emulate their heroes – at times these influences are perhaps overly obvious. Stellar production means that each guitar in the potentially problematic three guitar assault is perfectly audible, providing added depth to the sound as well as sprinklings of melodic lead playing that permeate throughout the expressive chord progressions. The vocals are emotionally fraught, providing a bleakness and sense of desperation both within their coarse delivery and lyrical content which deals with the common tribulations of growing up in a town that offers little in terms of excitement for its young citizens.
The Great Depression is the only anomaly – a fifty second acoustic country infused song that provides a quick break in aggression before the two part Drag The Blues. The two songs provide a great example of the power of dynamics and subtle tempo changes. Backed by urgent yet refined drumming, the song twists and turns through various levels of emotional fragility. Send Me Back To Sleep brings the release to a brilliant close in a short flurry of melodically inclined chords delivered with fervent hardcore anger whilst vocals reach their most ardently desolate. A fitting ending if their ever was one.
Drag The Blues is a record that packs an emotional punch and there is no doubt that although this is a brilliant starting point, they are still far from their potential. To really stand out amongst those in their field, Donnie Brasco need to concentrate on carving their own niche rather than simply being a logical sum of their influences. Despite these detractors, this is a must listen album for anyone that possesses a slight interest in the more leftfield hardcore sphere.
4 out of 5 high fives!