Living in Victory (formerly LIV) are back after an extended break with four tracks of raucous old-school hardcore like you don’t get hear very often anymore.
Back in 2014 LIV released the full length Be the Change and with the quality old-school , youth crew-like hardcore on that album looked to be making their mark. I’ve wondered since then when we would hear from them again and the answer was the 2018 Freeman (ep). As a band, Living in Victory started out more simply as LIV back in late 2012 in South Bay Los Angeles. Brought together by a love of hardcore from bands like 7 Seconds, Gorilla Biscuits, the band wrote songs full of emotion and heart that were sure to inspire endless singalongs , pileons, and just random chaos at undoubtedly sweaty shows. Be the change was full of songs that would stand alongside those of their influences and were good enough and with enough broad appeal that it would make LIV an good partner on a bill or tour. Moving forward to Freeman, the band has solidified their sound and made it a bit fuller with the addition of two guitarists (Jeremy Tudo and Chrisoper Pigao) replacing Ace Esguerra. As with Be the Change, production is spot on with vocals and instruments clearly heard in the mix which has a bit of a rougher edge or tone to it.
From the opening track “Freeman” to the closer “Kingdom Come”, the band wastes no time or notes and keeps the intensity high. For those familiar with old-school hardcore, the song structures will be familiar and hearken back to all the classic songs from the bands who established the genre. There are some slower intros to build tension before the song explodes like in “United Stomp”, some obvious dancing parts in “Freeman”, “SBS”, and “Kingdom Come”. Some often knock hardcore for being too predictable and granted there are only four songs here, but the band has a couple of more medium paced hardcore (“Freeman” and “SBS”), while “United Stomp” and “Kingdom Come” ramp up the speed immensely for at least part of the songs, giving a different feel from the others. Themes of unity, brotherhood, overcoming struggles, and introspection are par for the course.
From a performance aspect, as mentioned the two guitars really fill out the sound and the driving riffs that move the songs along are excellent from ringing chords to the expected palm muted hardcore chugging. The ever-present gang vocals complement the near ragged, emotion-filled screams of Matthew Salamante on vocals. “Kingdom Come” ends with chants of “We are the threat to the New World Order” and I can’t help but fondly remember the xDeathstarx song “We Are the Threat”, which has much the same message and emotion behind it.
Living in Victory made a good choice in altering their name a bit as the band has really moved forward with this release…now if we can get a full length out of them.
Written by John Jackson
2. United Stomp
4. Kingdom Come
Matthew Salamante – vocals
Jason Diaz – bass
Jeremy Tudon – guitar
Christopher Pigao – guitar
Tony Esquivel – drums
Record Label: On the Attack Records
Release Date: 22 June 2018