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Sick of It All: Life on the Ropes

Sick of It All: Life on the Ropes

Label:Fat Wreck Chords

By Brendan Coyne | Posted 8/18/2004

Seventeen years after releasing its first seven-inch single, and 15 years after Boogie Down Productions’ KRS-One introduced the first track off its first album, Blood Sweat and No Tears, New York City’s Sick of It All delivers Life on the Ropes, 16 tracks of grown-up hardcore.

From when vocalist Lou Koller’s first screams, “wealth and power crashing through/ wealth imposes its own views,” on “Relentless,” Ropes’ lead track, to the raw old-school rhythm of “Silence” and the strident guitars of “Butting Heads,” the quartet proves it belongs at the top of the hardcore heap. These guys—drummer Armand Majidi, bassist Craig Ahead (Setari), and Koller’s guitarist brother Pete—don’t coax the music, they beat it out. And all of Ropes, if not their entire career, is a testament to the blue-collar values that have kept these approaching 40-year-olds playing fast and furious meaningful music in a genre not known for longevity or pertinence.

SOIA’s commitment to self-improvement, personal sacrifice, and the 0do-it-yourself ethic comes through with a vengeance on “Paper Tiger (Fakin’ the Punk),” with its plaintive disgust at a music industry corrupted by branding and consumerism. And “On the Brink” brings the whole album together, with Pete’s guitar paving the way for his brother’s lament to those, including himself, who veer off course. This isn’t your kid’s hardcore anymore.

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