Crucial Records #8 : Bulldoze – The Final Beatdown

By Tieuma

Don’t worry, you didn’t missread that tittle and no, this ain’t a joke neither. So, from that point, if you jumped out of your seat, you have two options : either you can leave right now or carry on and regret you didn’t left earlier. Because today, dear readers, we’ll talk about the most stupid band of all New York Hardcore history if not all times.

I would completely understand if you’re surprised, since in all the articles I’ve posted before I may have looked like a complete PC. In fact, you are more or less quite right if you thought that, and I don’t defend myself on that issue, nor will lecture you. Considering that, it can be totally contradictory that someone like me praise a records like that. But I can hardly hide that I love hardcore a lot and a lot of thing that this term include, even that kind of braindead band.

Still, this love doesn’t prevent me to stay highly critical on the culture linked to this kind of music, especially when it comes to beatdown and the ultra tough guy attitude that it unfortunatly brung. In that sens, this review won’t be a lampoon pro or cons crowdkilling, ultra violence or behaviors I consider stupid in hardcore but just the review of a LP that I consider to be essential on how we create metalic hardcore nowadays. I know this record is a comilation of songs, put out during the 2000’s, but all the songs were recorded during the mid-nineties. And believe it or not, there was a 1996 version apparently.

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Basically, this records is a compilation, which can seem kind of unusual  for this serie of review. But it is made of all the songs written by the band, litterally ten, and they are all crucial enough to deserve the same review, so it was no use to just review the 7″ or the demo. The vinyl version was put out by The Year Is One records in 2011 and the CD version in 2001 by Trip Machine Laboratory. I know the vinyl was limited to 500 handnumbered copies, I don’t know much about the other versions. No need to extend ourselves on the layout, as it’s just sketchy as the name. At least it’s coherent. If I mentioned it was recorded in the nineties, it’s mostly because this is records important for all the songs it includes, and may it was put not long ago, those songs already marked history one decade before. Take it or not, but I think of it as the only real work the band ever made.

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First of all, let’s immediatly focus on the sketchy side of things. This records has the funniest name of all and just for that matter, it totally breaks with all the mindless burtality linked to it. I mean, everytime I see it I just can’t do otherwise than think about this EUROPE synth part and ask myself how those dudes wanted to look tough with such a band and records name ? This right here is the reason why I can’t take beatdown seriously and I why everybody shouldn’t. Because the hardest you want to look the dumbest you’ll be, and I find it a good move to just embrace it by naming your only “full lenght” by one funny name. With all the righteousness and attitude going on in the nineties, putting a records to gather all you songs which are that violent with such self-mockery already gives me a good reason to consider it crucial.

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Fortunatly, it goes further than that. Let’s talk a little bit about context here. We’re in New Jersey (but let’s say New York because in the USA it seems pretty close somehow), in the middle of the nineties. Metal and hardcore already gave birth to a lot of subgenres, especially in this area. I don’t think you need any kind of list, but by the mid-nineties, rest assured a lot of weird stuff happened musically, and a lot of bands tried to make the most aggressive music possible. There was already good shots though, but Kevone (singer, I don’t know if we say Kevoni or Kev1 but don’t hurt me if I made a mistake.) and his crew thought it wasn’t good enough.

As I said in the intro, BULLDOZE might not be the most poetic band on history, and we will get rid of this aspect right now. But I won’t blame them. Usually I can be really harsh about those “I will break your face” or “survival of the streets” lyrics, mostly because unjustified violence hurt my PC feelings and because most of time, the people singing it never were involved in a fight or actually lived in the street or even poverty for that matter. I don’t need examples because everyone knows that. In the case of the band we’re talking about, I won’t say anything, because I know for sure they didn’t come from an easy place to live.  I know their singer went to prison, just before the creation of TERROR ZONE, and it looks like the other members had a tough time living. For me they just talked about what happened to them, and I can understand why they are upset. In fact, if their lyrics was anything else than that, it wouldn’t have been the same. I believe it also helped defining beatdown. Written by the same hand, I’m more into the lyrics of TERROR ZONE, which were more spiritually inclined, and showed more maturity. But from time to time, some BULLDOZE lyrics went on that direction, like Suffering or All I Have.

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Now, let’s talk business will you. The real deal. The main reason why it is a very special records. The music ! Again, punk hardcore comes for me as a package, and I can hardly seperate the lyrics and the music. But in that case, we will make an exception. Many people around think this band is pathetic, on all aspects, even musically. I can understand that. On the first hearing, you got yourself with bad metal played by stupid kids. Still, you got to give this record another try, because there’s a lot of talent and influences involved. I’m not even kinding. If there was not a lot of effort put on the mastering/mix, which is pretty neutral, the writting is incredible. Again, I’m not even kidding. Those guy could have just down tuned their guitars as possible and only play straight brutal death metal riff if they wanted to play aggressive music but too bad, they were more influenced by BREAKDOWN, which is funny considering they invented the beatdown genre. But that was it, basically, they wanted to create metal that still speaks to punk kids.

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With the increasing number of beatdown bands and the general quality or it decreasing, I don’t know how many of them listened to BULLDOZE. Take The Truth for example, which seems to be their most reknowned song, it’s just a straight up CRO-MAGS mosh part, along with a straight up generic Oï riff, but on a ridiculously low tempo. Do you need more to turn people crazy ? No, really, no. Personnally, I find it way more aggressive than many overproduced things I’ve heard so far. And the groove. How many of those bands lack of this so important value ? I’ve never heard a song comparable to Hypocrite. And usually, when a song last for 5minutes, I can easily loose my patience, especially when “You’re a stupid motherfucker” is repeated so much. But they’ve just gave the definition of groove in beatdown, by simply using the “break-beat” of the 80’s hardcore band. This might not be a genius move for many of you, but you ought to keep in mind that we’re talking about a band that tries to play metal, and it’s and important fact that they included so much punk vibe in their blend. Maybe you’ll rage at this, but I can even hear some JUDGE riffs here and there.

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Seriously though, can it get better than that ? Really ?

The ambiance of their song is also an important thing. NYHC bands during the nineties were pretty good at this game and bands like BURN or SUB ZERO are huge favorite of mine for this. For me, BULLDOZE had their way too. I think this is mostly what the world kept in mind for this band. This super cold and neutral ambiance, , trying to sound heavy as possible, but only by using tricks like double bass drum or palm muted guitars and which I think is also provided by previously-said mix and by Kevone voice for that matter, a good example being Respect Through Fear, which my be my favorite song of the records. Also by the fact they might have worshiped the metal bands of their time, in the same way MORNING AGAIN did. Which led them to try to stick to a punk sound but with a metal feeling. But again, I don’t really think they put a lot of effort on the mix and I highly doubt they choose this kind of sound on purpose, which might mean that all the genius behind is just pure lazyness. Which is could be a coherent with their overall image. But anyway, this is what this band is, a bunch of looser and outcasts being lazy and obnoxious, trying to write down music. I know for sure they wanted people to fight on their music but it might be because I know what they were about in the first place, but they have done pretty well so far. Even me, I want to turn totally dumb when I listen to it. And I think this is the only thing they did on purpose.

Looking back when I first listened to hardcore, and beatdown it was, I didn’t find any band that could top BULLDOZE, because what they did, was to create a genre and put the standard so high that many tried to reach but missed way off. And even this is amazing. In the middle of the nineties, when they were so may stuff happening, so many things being created in the name of hardcore that you would end up buried by the masses, they suceeded to create a new dynamic. Indeed, it had to be the stupidest one, the one that brung or reinforced what I don’t like in hardcore, but in such time of confusion, they did it, and they did it well. For me, they are what MAYHEM is to black metal. The unholy precursor of an unholy kind.

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When I listen to this band, and this records for that matter, I have to put aside a lot of things. My brain, first of all, and those things like jock/gang mentality put to the extreme, ultra violence and macho attitude, negativity on every level. The list can go on for sure, and it’s a total contradiction of what I think about punk hardcore and the progressive side of it. But BULLDOZE is, before everything, a band that had set new rules, new way to play hardcore. They didn’t care about a lot of stuff, except that people had to fight on their music, but it started something, unproductive that it could be. Believe it or not, it was way ahead of it’s time, and shown everyone that you could just don’t care about anything, but still play something worth listening. Because it is worth listening. It’s full of influence and a bad taste turned so well that BIOHAZARD could be jealous. It’s just the metal and hardcore vibes of the nineties turned in a new way, that was clearly unseen at that time, but yet so simple : they just turned the tempo down. And maybe it looked sketchy, and still does for sure, it’s the best way too evacuate all the bad stuff going on daily. Put on some BULLDOZE and the world looked so fragile, so easy to crush down. Many bands tried to go on that direction, but they missed it completly. This is why it is a crucial records, because when your standard is BULLDOZE, all those other beatdown bands look cheap. This was the real, final beatdown. Tududu du, tududu dudu, tududu du, tududu dudu dudu…

REMEMBER WHO’S STRONG !

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