Twenty-five years is a long time to be in a band, especially when it’s a band as hardworking as New York legends Sick of it All. With a following as devout as Slayer, AC/DC, Iron Maiden or any other mainstay band you can think of, SOIA have managed to maintain a career this long based on integrity and having the uncanny ability to channel everything that’s great – and positive – about aggressive music in near-perfect two minute nuggets of audio goodness.
Produced by Danish producer Tue Madsen (Dark Tranquility/The Haunted), who has given their uncompromising hardcore sound a more metallic edge over the course of their previous two albums, this celebratory album sees the band revisiting some of the most popular tracks from their back catalogue and giving what could easily be described as a fan’s dream setlist. Quite often when a band re-records classic tracks from their past the end results tend to be fairly flat and souless, and lacking the energetic spark that made them classics in the first place, but having played these songs live numerous times over the years – and most of them are still in the live setlist – to the point of perfection means that the vital edge is still there. It could also be fair to say that this could almost be a live album, such is the rawness that Madsen has leant to their sound.
A track-by-track rundown would be fairly pointless, considering that the nature of the album means that pretty much all of the tracks are highlights, but ‘Scratch the Surface’ (originally from the 1994 album of the same name) sounds particularly brutal, given that the original album suffered from a slightly muted mix, along with ‘Built to Last’ and ‘Us Vs. Them’ (originally from 1997′s Built to Last album) and the double-whammy of ‘Clobberin’ Time’ and ‘Injustice System!’ (originally from 1989 debut album Blood, Sweat & No Tears). But the list could carry on, as there are no duds here at all. In fact, the only problem with the album is that there isn’t enough room on it to include more of their claasic tracks, so maybe next time we might get ‘Step Down’, ‘Maladjusted’, ‘Potential For a Fall’, etc.
Overall then, a stormer of an album that proves 1) what a cracking back catalogue this band have and 2) that the band can still pummell you over the head with said songs. Awesome.