When asked to name classic heavy metal bands, the ones that come to mind are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Cirith Ungol, Mercyful Fate and Mindforce right? Wait, Mindforce the hardcore band? Ok, maybe not in the true sense when mentioning heavy metal but these gentlemen from New York sure go back to roots on their most recent EP Swingin’ Swords, Choppin’ Lords on Triple B Records that was released in February of this year. From the first few notes, you will be doing double takes to make sure you are listening to the right band.
Hardcore and metal have always been closely related but even more so in the past few years. Bands that come to mind are Power Trip and Drain with their infusion of thrash or Integrity, exploring the sounds of black metal. You could even go further back and mention bands like Earth Crisis incorporating the thrash and groove of the mighty Sepultura. It is no denying the two genres are not that far removed from one another. Hardcore incorporating the sound of classic heavy metal is not exactly foreign territory but this is a great place to start. These four songs only add up to a total of seven minutes, but it is a wild ride. You will instantly be transported back to the first time you heard Evil, Painkiller or Number of the Beast.
Minforce’s 2018 release, Excalibur, leaned heavily into metal infused hardcore but also staying firmly planted in the sound of the New York hardcore scene. Make no mistake, this is hardcore music played fast and heavy and to be fair this EP is not that far removed from the full length, leaning into and fully embracing the strengths of it. These songs just feel like they are being played by a band that has a new-found confidence and knows who they want to be and the direction they want to go in. The opening song and title track sounds like it was written by Glenn Tipton. Mike, their guitarist, takes on longer and more intricate solos. The second track Fratello, is the band firing on all cylinders and opens with a bass solo! Jay, the vocalist, is as strong as ever and keeps a vocal style similar to that of Brendan Yates of Turnstile. He is very good at allowing the whole band to take center stage with the talent they all have to offer. The band continuing in this direction is no mistake as the band worked with legendary producer Arthur Rizk, whose resume includes Power Trip, Cirith Ungol, Code Orange and the highly anticipated album from the mighty Xibalba.
This short but blistering album is a special one that can appeal to many and bridges the gap between genres. Hardcore has been challenging the stereotypes of the past, especially a band like Mindforce and I am excited to see where they go from here.