Review: Sovereign – The World Takes (re-release)

sovereignpa

Pennsylvania hardcore band Sovereign have come out swinging, again, with the re-release of their debut album The World Takes.  Originally appearing in September of 2014, this new version finds the band having re-recorded the guitars and fully remixed and remastered what was already an angry, heavy slab of crusty d-beat/hardcore. The re-release is truly a beast, the new mix and master job having pushed the distortion and impact to the limit, further augmenting the atmosphere of rage and urgency that pervades each song.

It is immediately apparent that Sovereign has a soft spot for 90’s crust and hardcore, with the influence of bands like His Hero Is Gone and Turmoil being the easiest to hear.  More contemporary touchstones might include the ex-HHIG project Tragedy and the excellent but now defunct Advent.  As you might expect from that description, The World Takes tears through each of its 10 songs without relenting to softness at any point, and in an excerpt of singer Danny Katz’s lyrics from the song “Charlatan” – ‘there may be a light, but this tunnel never ends’, you can get some sense of the air of futility that fuels the rasp and rage of his vocal approach.  Its a cliche that no one pays attention to the lyrics in hardcore and metal songs, but I do, and The World Takes provided some material worth that attention.  Katz’s lyrics are well written and thoughtful; darkly personal and expressive of emotion without the rehashed politics, posturing or fake juvenile wisdom that many other bands in the genre show up with. That is to say – the emotion in the words and the delivery feel actually experienced instead of pantomimed.sovlive

Katz’s internals are repeatedly laid bare here against the backdrop of grimy riffs pumped out by guitarist Jeremy Lorenzon, and the hammering rhythms provided by bassist Ross Cohen and drummer Trevor Machinia.  Sovereign’s brand of hardcore is defined by  textures of crust and grit and the overall effect of The World Takes is that it leaves you with the feeling that you’ve been involved in a fistfight while standing chest deep in mud.  Songs like the meaty mid-album track “pH” and the later “Crucible” come galloping off the starting line and work their way through some mid tempo churn into breakdowns worthy of a band like Buried Alive.  Other tracks like opener “Charlatan” and “Hollows” barely break the two minute mark and single-mindedly thrash for the entirety of their brief existence.  This is the only dynamic that exists on the record, with the tracks operating completely in the narrow strip of ground between ‘rock’ and ‘hard place’.  Obviously, these songs were written to slam you against both, over and over.

Being a first full length effort, The World Takes is a solid group of songs that establishes Sovereign as one of the few current players in the hardcore milieu that manage to come off as visceral and muscular sounding, but also intelligent and real.  Since the initial release of the album, the band has also put out some newer material in the form of a couple of tracks on a split with NY’s Bleak.  If those songs are any indication, they’ve already begun to push the boundaries of their template on The World Takes, and are moving into new and interesting territory.  Get on board with them now, before you get run over by them later.

Rating: AARating8

The re-release of Sovereign’s The World Takes comes out today via sovereignpa.bandcamp.com and Downgrade Records. Go get it and punch yourself in the genitals.  check out Sovereign on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sovereignpahc

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