Years Old – Tournament

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Tournament play the sort of music that quickly make uninitiated folks uncomfortable. Their debut LP Years Old is a celebration of the dying days of the first wave of American hardcore and the noisy bastard children spawned in the wake of that movement’s demise. The brain of Black Flag, the body of Jesus Lizard or early Rye Coalition.

I could go on some rant about the philosophies of the ugly, angry, mutated step-brothers of punk rock, or mourn for bands or scenes from the mid 80’s that I wasn’t a part of; I can bash you over the head with arbitrary questions like “remember how fucking good bands like Rorschach were? Why does nobody do it like Dischord did it?”; I could even make a list of the handful of current bands that live up to my (probably unreasonable) standards of what constitutes a “good” hardcore or noise band, but I won’t, because this is about this album by Tournament, not about getting my rocks off.

Years Old starts off with a faint pulse and bangs in after about six seconds, continuing for a hair over thirty minutes and ten songs that sound like they’re being played in a basement by a band slowly being dragged to their own personal hells through a hole in the floor. Each song forms a dark cloud that quickly swells into a shitstorm, and as exemplified in a song like “Something Temporary”, the band can pull off the talking (not singing) loud over chaos quite well; it sounds at times like singer is trying his best to have restraint all while being on the verge of losing it.

But it’s the direct middle of the album where the band does the most damage, starting with the instrumental death squad marching anthem “From the Mouths of Non-Believers”, the band leads us into one of the brightest examples of bleak perfection with the song “Snuff News”. “Good, Thanks. You?” conjures up vultures in a circle pit, flying slowly around the dying prey in the middle, and is a thick coated sludgy dirge that brings to mind KARP stoned out of their minds. Starting out sounding almost like early Bad Religion, the band quickly turn into something akin to Drive Like Jehu covering Septic Death.