Album Review: INCENDIARY Thousand Mile Stare
I wish I kept track of every time I heard a bullshit claim about a band. I wish because I’d love to share it with you. Reading too many press releases and label album descriptions can lead to disillusionment. Sometimes it’s like a buzzword noose. Sometimes the claims are simply outrageous (see: anytime a band is compared to The Shape of Punk to Come by peer or professional distributor). But sometimes hype isn’t overstated.
If you’re even ankle deep into hardcore/punk you’ve heard the name Incendiary. They haven’t been the fastest to release albums. Hell, it’s been eight years since their debut and this is only their third album with Thousand Mile Stare. They’re not the fastest players, and they’re not steeped in old school Zero Boys-esque attitude or Minor Threat worship. Incendiary is split between New York City and Long Island, concerning members. And they sound like their area. But at the same time they don’t. See, there’s something different about this band.
The first thing I thought when spinning the new record was: New York. And yeah, Incendiary encapsulates the New York hardcore style but moves outside its boarders constantly, using other territories as a sort of watercolor. Thousand Mile Stare kicks off with “Still Burning”, a bouncier, heavy track that gets the record rolling. It’s a declaration that the love hasn’t burned out and there’s still something to be pissed and committed about. The song showcases almost all of what you’ll get with Incendiary: metallic, melodic/progressive, heavy, moody, a hip-hop-like bounce, and some pure punk influence. But there’s also some crossover thrashier stuff. So if you thought hardcore/punk was just three-chords, a few seconds to speak your mind and then fucking off, well, you’d be dead wrong and about twenty-five-years behind.
Thousand Mile Stare lives and dies by how tightly-woven these tunes are. Song after song, Incendiary hit all the right notes. Its a fresh record with a sharp edge. The instrumentation is what really kicks these pieces into gear. The guitar work is where the band shines. Songs go from breakdowns, to thrash-y bits, to more traditional hardcore/punk riffs, but never at the drop of a hat. What’s more, the writing is strongly reminisce of Rhode Island’s Verse. Tracks like “No Purity” sound like they were cut out of From Anger and Rage or Aggression (see: album artwork) in the best way. The build up and progression get the blood flowing to the point of bursting a vein.
Other pieces like “Sell Your Cause” start out as straight forward attacks. This piece is a savage, forward-charging beater that moves into a progressive/melodic offering, all while never abandoning its aggression. Other tracks like “Hanging From the Family Tree” are just as aggressive but take their time getting there. The aforementioned leads in with a catchy guitar lick that comes back later. But when that hip-hop beat kicks in towards the end, the track becomes both catchy and threatening. You can almost see the bodies piling on top of each other.
Thousand Mile Stare is a culmination of metallic New York hardcore ethics but pushed further. Everything on this album is in the song writing. And you can say that about most records, but even if this sounding like it was recorded in a discarded tuna can, it would still inflict the same impassioned response. Is it some revolutionary, new blueprint for hardcore? No. Is it some of the best material written in the genre in the last ten years? Holy shit, yes. The writing and riffing is incredibly refreshing, and that’s what makes them stand out. Thousand Mile Stare is a milestone in Incendiary’s already excellent catalog. The album is infectious, aggressive, and sincere. It’s the kind of record that when it spins, you can practically see the live show madness open up before your eyes.