All Torn Up! – Drone Life

What is it with bands sometimes including punctuation in their name?  We’ve seen this before with hardcore, but it’s really an interesting phenomenon, and some day someone is going to need a sociology dissertation, or maybe in linguistics, so there you go, figure this one out.  Or, rather, figure this one out!  Not too long ago we did a review of a Finnish hardcore band that also had a thing for the exclamation point.  We liked those guys, Finland’s been doing great things, as has France with the post-hardcore movement.  In the US things have been kind of hit-and-miss for Deaf Sparrow over the past five years.  We’ve had some great material, and a lot of average material.  Hardcore always seems to be painfully average when it is average at all, for some reason, and it tends to be linked primarily to vocal delivery.  Punk can get away with the usual and manage an above-average score most of the time, it’s pretty hard to fail at punk, because if you start to screw up it usually sounds better anyway.  Hardcore, however, though stemming from punk in origins, requires some pretty solid muscle to make it, that’s kind of the image, and if you don’t have enough of that drive, well, doesn’t work out the best.  The artwork on Drone Life is highly unusual, if it weren’t for the oi anarchy-type symbol at the bottom and the stencil text, you’d probably place it as synth pop, but no, it is hardcore.


All Torn Up! seem like pretty cool guys, and like many underground hardcore acts they take what they do seriously, and that’s commendable.  They come from Queens and from their Facebook pictures you get the feeling they’re the kind of band that enjoys playing and touring, even if it means playing in a squatter basement; they basically embody the image of classic hardcore, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Plus, they knew exactly how to send a package.  Simple and clear promo sheet, check.  Cut-and-paste lyric sheet, check.  Colored vinyl, check.  7″, check.  Hardcore, three-fourths-check.  All Torn Up! have got the classic package figured, but their delivery is lacking in one particular area.  Do we mind a bit of the usual?  No, provided it’s done properly.  Drone Life almost achieves that necessary level, but it never fully gets there.


When it opens with Spanish rally cries, honestly, you’re ready for some fist-pumping action.  Find me a face, I’m ready to punch it into the ground.  The guitars, clear, bass holding the rear, drums doing their classic hardcore tempo crashing.  Really dig those rally cries, too, nothing beats some ethnic flair.  “No Man’s Land”, awesome track, can we have more?  Oh, we can?  Thank you, because next comes “Remote Control Man”, and that same driving force you found prior is there again.  However, this is about the point when Drone Life begins to loosen at the stitches.  What is it, exactly?  The guitars sound the same, the bass, the drums, they’re all there.  There are those rally cries again, awesome stuff.  But…something’s lacking, what is it?  The vocals.  Now, Joey Steel, the helmsman of the band, seems like a great guy.  But roughly by around track three or four, you realize how he sounds, tired, like he’s at loss of how to reach deep into the power of his stomach.  He lacks that force that makes better hardcore singers so critical to the sound.  Steel has the energy, you can see it in at least one live performance, but in order to bring All Torn Up! properly up, he desperately needs to add some power to the vocals, which have a sense of inexperienced immaturity to their basic tone.  Imagine someone simply yelling, with no real development to the yell, as though yelling at a dog, or their girlfriend for forgetting the keys, or their mother for not understanding their political views, and that’s this.  The basic foundation for some sick hardcore is there, but those vocals need to get some man juice behind them to pull ahead.  Compare these guys to Instinto who, granted are though more crust, have the perfect amount of dominance and control in their vocals to go from “yeah, don’t mind a listen” to “holy shit spin that again”.  All Torn Up! are on a good path, just some tweaking is needed in their future.


All Torn Up! Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

All Torn Up! – Drone Life
3.5 / 5