Friday 27 December 2013

Integrity - Systems Overload (A2/Orr+ Mix) (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 29/11/2013
Label : Magic Bullet Records/Organized Crime Records

SYSTEMS OVERLOAD (A2/Orr+ Mix), track listing :
01. Incarnate 365
02. No One
03. Systems Overload
04. Armenian Persecution
05. Grace of the Unholy
06. Forevers Horizon
07. Mediator
08. Salvation’s Malevolence
09. Fading Away
10. Jimson Isolation
11. The Screams
12. Search for Divinity
13. Unveiled Tomorrows

Bio :
One of the most vicious and iconic hardcore albums ever, Systems Overload was initially released by Victory Records in 1995, elevating INTEGRITY to a whole new level of international notoriety, yet due to rushed/confused mixing sessions, the final product bore a more modern metallic hardcore sound than the band intended. In 2012, former INTEGRITY guitarist Aaron Melnick and current guitarist Robert Orr collaboratively took on a mission to bring forth the true vision of Systems Overload LP forth. Unearthing the initial masters from the extensive recording sessions, the guitarists from two different eras of the band pulled elements of alternate takes of the songs to a new level, incorporating new contributions from both Melnick and Orr with lost solos and divebombs. The new mix showcases a much more organic and haphazardly raw side of this timeless album -- bearing fan favorites like the opening track “Incarnate 365,” the rabid “Armenian Persecution,” the plodding “Jimson Isolation” and the enduring title anthem -- the dark, visionary brutality of the initial recording is retained, but the band’s punk and Japanese hardcore influences erupt forth with new vitality, and includes liner notes from both Melnick and Orr on the process of putting the album together.

Magic Bullet will plague humanity with the CD issue of the A2/Orr+ mix of Systems Overload on November 29th, 2013. The release will come less than two months from the day INTEGRITY’s iconic lineup from the early-mid ‘90s, including the Systems Overload album, reunites for the first time in twenty years. Vocalist Dwid Hellion, bassist Leon Melnick, drummer Mark Konopka and guitaristsAaron Melnick and Chris Smith will also be joined by current INTEGRITY lead guitarist Robert Orr on stage at the A389 X Bash in Baltimore this January 17th and 18th in Baltimore, Maryland to perform an exclusive historic one-off set at the massive event. The Bash will also include special performances by Bloodlet, All Out War, Infest, Haymaker, Empire Of Rats, Noisem, Full Of Hell and many others

Review :

This is a somewhat interesting concept: original version of landmark hardcore album is released way back when by Victory (in the mists of 1995), gets rushed through mixing stages and turns out more metallic in nature than the band would have apparently liked. Last year a guitarist from that era (Aaron Melnick) teamed up with the current guitarist (Robert Orr) to dust off the original masters and to attempt to bring forth the true vision of what Integrity wanted when they recorded and then released 'Systems Overload'. They have also both added fresh and lost parts to the final product to enhance the way the album sounds.

And honestly, it sounds pretty fuckin' righteous.

NOTE: I am approaching this record from a virginal stance, so I can only give my opinion on this current rendition. But what a rendition it is. 'Incarnate 365' is a complete HxC ripper, overflowing with attitude and swagger. I love the degree of musicality that Integrity bring to the table for a hardcore band, as I have mentioned in past reviews of their stuff. Never stifled or uncreative, all of their stomp is peppered with real musicianship. Solos that will make your toes curl, and a dark side that lies beneath. This track in particular highlights all the fundamental things that make Integrity the bomb.

The bass on 'No One' is tremendous, layered on thick and lush. The guitars keep up the tempo too, and those drums are breakneck. They lock it down like pit-starting royalty here, and Dwid's vocals are some of the most impressive in the game. He has more heart than a butcher's back room.

'Armenian Persecution' shows off to some degree the lighter flair that the band can be famous for. Some nice 80s metal quality intro, with layered guitars and soloing. The production is raw enough throughout the record to keep it sharp where it should be, and on quieter moments it enhances the moody feel. The contrast between the two clashes on this cut when it explodes into life, just buzz saw riffs and off the hook aggression. Tremendous.

'Mediator' is mid-paced to start, and a great way to get any room moving. But it's purely warm up stuff, as it decides to angrily break its foot off in your ass with some vicious, lightning riffery. The truly old school beatdown at the end would surely be a dirty, sweaty spectacle to behold in a live setting (*adds 'watch Integrity' to bucket list*).

Like I said earlier, I can only comment on this latest version of 'Systems Overload'. I imagine that the original is killer, but I can only guess that this is an improvement. Very little here doesn't contribute to the whole, or make for anything less than essential listening for any fan of rugged and real hardcore. This is the way this record was meant to be, and you can hear the love and urgency in it every step of the way. If you're a fan of the original it'll be an interesting proposition, but if you're new to it then I cannot stress how much you need to hear this. Make it happen.

Words by : Matt Fitton

You can buy it here and here

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