AlbumsNovember 29, 20118,004 views

Majhas Stepping Into Character

01. Stepping Into... 02. Workman’s Comp 03. NOLA Heat 04. Fist Fights in Motion (MP3) 05. Kick It To Sleep 06. Intermission 07. Forgot It All 08. Tragedy’s Muse 09. Quick Breath Before Dying 10. Double Life Sentence 11. ...Character
2003 Hawthorne Street Records
Our score 8


This was a very pleasant surprise, to say the least. I honestly, and somewhat closemindedly, expected Majhas to be some boring, pretentious "screamo" band, but I was thankfully proven wrong. What we have here is some chaotic, metallic, catchy 'noisecore'. Picture a more dissonant Botch or a more metal Unsane and you'll have a vague idea of what you're in for. Majhas are no ripoffs, though. Looked at against the slew of uninspired, unoriginal garbage that passes for hardcore these days, this record is incredibly refreshing. The album bursts with energy from the get-go and, for the majority of the time length, it doesn't let up save for a short breather here and there. Majhas has found a pretty rare balance between rock and hardcore/metal where they're genuinely heavy but still rocking and varied enough that you can differentiate between individual songs. And although I don't want to paint these guys as "masters of unrelenting brutality" or anything, there are some points on this record that could easily be described as pummelling. Thankfully, vocalist Jon Micael Gioe has a set of pipes to perfectly match the music. His voice sounds just plain ferocious, and throaty as all hell. There's not a sung note on here. I wouldn't be surprised if he couldn't talk for a week after this record was recorded. On a related note, he's penned some really standout lyrics. Rather than force some all too common stream-of-consciousness "poetry" on the listener, he takes more of a direct, bottom-line approach, covering topics like confrontation and religion with maturity and intelligence. An example, from "Fist Fights In Motion", one of the best tracks on the album: "After I've beaten I'll develop a scar, and hate you no matter how big and tough you are. You may punish me again and again. You'll get it too no matter what you send. The West side taught me never back down. You're the kind of stupidity, I hope, my child is never around." The guitar work here really shines here as well. I'm not familiar with guitarist John Zeps' former band Ice Nine, but I'd now like to be. There's no lazy playing here, he really fucks with his instrument to always produce a weirder, more 'out there' riff than you expect. The riffing is bizarre and labyrinthine without sinking into masturbatory noodling. Some of the tracks end up sounding as much like Helmet as they do Coalesce. Almost every song has something interesting to offer, from the bluesy intro in "NOLA Heat" to the southern-fried lead riff of "Tragedy's Muse". The other band members' work is not to be overlooked, though. The drums have a real punch to them, and the bass provides really heavy support to a lot of these songs. As far complaints go, the few I have center around the lengthy and fairly unnecessary "Intermission" in the middle of the album, which is basically instrumental noise that breaks up the flow the album had, and the noisy filler of the final track, which lasts about fifteen minutes and really kills my desire to stay around for the hidden song at the end (which is really good). Overall, the filler is a pain in the ass, but definitely doesn't weigh down such a solid album. Bottom Line: By straying from the beaten path, Majhas have produced a damn good record that deserves a lot more attention than it seems to be getting. There's a whole lot of creativity, energy, and honesty packed into this CD and it definitely shows. Even the layout is killer. Anyone looking for an intelligent, well-written album that defies hardcore "norms" but still isn't afraid to kick your ass will want to look into this, and fans of Botch, Jesuit, or more recent acts like Breather Resist should definitely take note. It would be a shame if this got overlooked.

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Pat_the_gates_ 8/24/2007 3:13:42 PM

first post