Considering how many times I’ve pointed out that merely listing bands that provided members for a project is the cheapest of a reviewer’s many cheap tricks, I shouldn’t be surprised that—for once—it bit me in the ass. The Bars includes members of The Hope Conspiracy, Give Up the Ghost, and the Suicide File, three of my favorite hardcore and punk bands of this decade to date, and it sounds like what you might expect from people steeped in rock and roll and the more visceral side of hardcore (Black Flag and the Funhouse-era Stooges are two bands that spring most immediately to mind, but there are a handful of groups which exhibited a similar level of intensity and a similar approach to rock‘n’roll damage and destruction). Simply put, this is a snarling, ferocious, steel-booted kick in the teeth—it’s far more recidivist than most contemporary hardcore; instead of focusing on smooth, polished riffs and more standard modern hardcore production, it bristles with jagged edges, rock riffs, and menace. This is the Altamont to modern hardcore’s Woodstock; as the Bars rampage through these blistering guitar-driven songs, it feels more like a bats-and-chains street fight than any recent form of punk. To my way of thinking, that makes this record even more enjoyable, precisely because it neither pulls punches nor takes the easy, commercial way out. Perhaps even more importantly and impressive, even though Bars includes members of a number of contemporary hardcore bands, it doesn’t really sound like any of those bands—these musicians got together and created something different from what they had done in the past. While I can’t call it new, it’s still a very welcome rabbit punch of rock’n’roll.
–scott (Equal Vision)