19 March 2013
by Ollie Connors
Until this point, you could easily be forgiven for not taking Reign Supreme completely seriously. A good friend of mine, despite being the wrong side of 30, spends countless nights watching what he likes to (very aptly) term “bad mosh” bands – the kind of clichéd, beatdown-heavy macho bullshit that gives hardcore a bad name – and this is everything Reign Supreme used to represent. Sure, it’s fun as hell, because you knew what you were listening to was completely base and trash – but, on the other hand, dem grooves, man. This, though, is a different beast altogether. The Philly quartet have pushed themselves beyond the limitations of their peers in acts like Trapped Under Ice and Cruel Hand, and moved into sixth gear on new mini-album Sky Burial, their first release since 2009 full-length Testing The Limits Of Infinite.
It’s a very odd set of circumstances – up until now, Reign Supreme (shortened to RGN SUP) have been released on Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc. label – it’s an admittedly cynical but fairly factual theme that a certain amount of shared Converge DNA runs through the majority of Deathwish’s acts, but since leaving the label and joining Mediaskare, this is their most Converge-esque effort yet. Not to say they’ve become a facsimile, but you can hear elements of the Bay Staters in the thundering, bluesy opener ‘It Feels Like A Thousand Years’, or the sprawling closer ‘Guilty’. It’s these elements they’ve encompassed into their arsenal that makes this record so special – the sound of a band tearing up the metaphorical rulebook and firing on all cylinders doing things their way.
RGN SUP (the abbreviation sounds a bit like a homie greeting the late former US President Ronald)’s lead vocalist Jay Pepito’s old outfit Blacklisted have taken a radically different direction on their latter releases, and this record finds Reign Supreme moving comfortably into their sort of (former) territory; uncompromising, heavier than a ton of bricks landing on your face and relentless, but also with an engaging emotive side and a willingness to experiment, tearing down the barriers between hardcore and metalcore – fans of both styles will find plenty of reward here. It’s that extraordinarily rare species of record – one that makes you want to pump your fist and bang your head like an absolute loon, but at the same time, challeges your intellect with intelligent, intricate dynamics and songwriting.
Watch the lyric-video (URGH) to ‘The Hopelessly Devoted’ by Reign Supreme:
At seven tracks, this delivers a powerful “state of the union” address from the Reign Supreme of 2013 – while the Reign Supreme of old haven’t quite disappeared, they’ve incorporated new and exciting elements and pack an even heftier punch than ever before. While “bad mosh” provides a superficial blast of silliness, this new and improved version of the band is one all fans of hardcore can get behind. Just don’t leave the next one another four years, eh lads?
Sounds Like: Batman evolving from George Clooney into Christian Bale
Standout Tracks: It Feels Like A Thousand Years, Heartsick, Guilty