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October 10, 2006

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Toronto/Ontario-based melodic hardcore unit Fucked Up seems to inhabit an ocean of freewill and anarchy. For starters, their plain and explicit moniker kinda says it all, doesn’t it? And just to follow up the laissez faire theme, their music flails with open chords, rambunctious vocals, and a loose rhythmic base that sticks to you like a leech with a chip on its inexistent shoulder. It’s aggressive alright, especially the raspy vocals of burly man Father Damian aka Pink Eyes, who nicely balances melody with aggression and carries his band through the likes of “Crusades,” “David Comes to Life,” “Invisible Leader,” and “Baiting the Public”: all pretty average tracks that, in the manicured hands of a lesser band, would pass you by like they meant nothing.

Over the course of four years, Fucked Up have released no less than 10 7”s, three 12”s, and a compilation. Hidden World elevates itself beyond the average run-of-the-mill hardcore release by having each track come adorned with sticky melodies, solid upper cuts, and enough energy to power an Indian shanty town.

The band behind Pink Eyes works wonders with what they have. Their material is pretty centered around the meat and potatoes of rock (guitars, bass, drums), and the playing itself is by no means inflammatory, but each track – without ever breaking out of character – offers plenty of hooks, addictive speed, and a sense of melody that is nicely encased in the earthly production of Jon Drew (Brutal Knights, Career Suicide, Magneta Lane). Hidden World’s sound is airtight: the tone of the guitars retains its aggression without distorting too much, and it balances girth with length quite nicely. My guess is that at some point the band had to make a decision between punch and cleanliness, and judging Hidden World by its sheer force, I bet they chose punch because the tacit sound of it brings out the best of each player. Besides not being able to emphasize the “melodic” point enough, it is difficult to pinpoint a factor that makes this record such a solid affair. After all, it is based on an old and well-known formula that can only be tagged as successful when paired with quality songwriting. So that’s the key: engaging melodies and enough talent to craft good material. There is also an unorthodox undercurrent sipping through certain songs, like the psychedelic feedback that kicks off “Two Snakes” and the extended quasi-jams that are so not of the natural nature of bands of this ilk. It says a couple of things about Fucked Up: one, that they can extend their talent beyond the limits of their self-imposed borders and two, well?°¦ I can’t remember it, because Hidden World is kicking quite the big ass.

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Hansel Merchor