Cross-Check have released an ep filled with catchy hardcore songs channeling the spirit and sound of old-school hardcore and some updated demos of older songs on Overwhelming Odds.
Southern California has produced a lot of noteworthy hardcore bands and over the years has been fertile ground for bands producing aggressive, fast, catchy music that packs a punch. Add Overwhelming Odds to that list… while this is their debut for Thumper Punk Records, they do appear to have some older material from 2017 in an album called Drop the Puck, which is another place to find versions of the demo tracks on Overwhelming Odds. For Overwhelming Odds, the band recorded with Nick Coffey and the songs were mixed by Zach Bridier at Captive Portal Music with Sef Idle at SImpul Studios handling the mastering.
Hardcore is short supply these days, with most of it being supplied by the old guard bands like Sick of It All, Slapshot, Agnostic Front, and Madball, so to get another band to review, especially a good one, makes for a great day. My biggest issue with Overwhelming Odds is that I want more. The first five songs are fully done tracks with the second five on the ep being demos and true to form, the whole thing clocks in around 20 minutes.
Feedback launching straight into a fast riff opens up “Legs Feed the Wolf” much like any hardcore album should. There is no time wasted here. Drums are fast and hard and drive the song along, shouted vocals by Chad Sengstock, remind me a bit of Scott Wade from the early days of Comeback Kid and musically, one could see a fit there as well. About a minute late, the first track is open and the band launches straight into a slower, more rhythmic track, “You Got Heart, Kid”, that features some nice guitar lines layered over the top allowing the bass to be clearly heard as we all know how important a great bass line is for hardcore songs. Gang vocals dominate the track and this would certainly be a track that would have a huge pile of crowd vocalists at the edge of the stage.
“The Devil Don’t Take Holidays” has a calmer, more punk rock like opening again highlighting the bass work of Matt Morey in carrying the song along. Chad Sengstock’s vocals complement the music nicely and go to the edge of raggedness without actually crossing that threshold. This more melodic track would make for a nice “dance” tune during a live set. “Victorius” continues to show the melodic side of the band with a driving riff and some shout-response vocal parts adding in a short guitar solo for good measure. “The Puck Stops Here” closes out the finished tracks and is largely a brief bit of shouting and guitar noise/feedback.
Interestingly, the finished tracks are all less than two minutes in length, while all the demos are over 2 minutes and include a number of tracks originally on their Drop the Gloves album from 2017… “Rattle and Roll” opens up with an awesome bass reminiscent of Chuck Dukowski in the early days of Black Flag, and the song explodes from there, working along that great bass line and bringing in walls of feedback from time to time, pretty much everything you’d want in a hardcore song. Continuing in this theme, “Drown Your Guilt” also opens with a great bass line similar to “Rattle and Roll” and then proceeds to be another great track. “Open is where the band looses me a bit with it’s surf-rock/garage band guitar opening that carries through much of the rest of the song to the point where it sounds like it is a different band. “Lighthouse” and Hard Heads & Black Hearts” show the band returning back to a sound more similar to the rest of the album on these tracks that are good as-is but would be better when fully finished tracks.
Cross-Check is a great find for anyone looking for old-school hardcore being performed by a newer band or at least a band different than the old stand-bys. Catchy riffs, aggressive guitars and drums, no filler and strong vocals characterize the sound of the band, which is just what we used to hear so much of…
Written by John Jackson
- Legs Feed the Wolf
- You Got Heart, Kid
- The Devil Don’t Take Holidays
- The Puck Stops Here
- Rattle & Roll (demo)
- Drown Your Guilt (demo)
- Open (demo)
- Lighthouse (demo)
- Hard Heads & Black Hearts (demo)
Chad Sengstock- Vocals/Guitar
Matt Morey- Bass/Vocals
Chris Wallace – Guitar, vocals, drums (on album)
Max – Drums
Release Date: Nov. 14th. 2019
Record Label: Thumper Punk Records