“Life and Times” by Maximum Penalty

Artist: Maximum Penalty
Title: “Life And Times”
Label: Reaper Records
Release Date: 2/10/2010
Genre: Heavy Metal/Hardcore
Rating: 3.75/5

Growing up as an eighties Metal maniac I can freely admit that the whole NYHC movement was lost on me and as result so were many of its biggest defenders of their ideals in the band sense. Despite my own lacking in this area, the NYHC scene found a number of its luminaries stepping into music history and as result groups like Sick Of It All, Madball, D.R.I and many more are heralded as legends and believe it or not many of them are still active today. Much like the Metal scene has found happening over the course of its life, the NYHC scene had a number of waves to it and this brings us to the second wave and one of its more promising bands – Maximum Penalty. Formed in 1986 by singer Jim Williams, the band was more of a cross-over outfit and one that took the NYHC aesthetic and infused it with a healthy dose of Metal riffs, some Hip-Hop sense and even a dash of Punk for good measure. It might sound like a mess when one looks at the ingredients but like all recipes in music, when each part is used to proper measurement, the end result can be very interesting. A lot has transpired since the time that the band made their first appearance and after a few short years of inactivity they were back in action in 2004 doing tours and writing new material. This brings us to “Life And Times” which brings the band into the present and finds them to be one that has grown in musical style and influence as they deliver some solid melodies and continue to uphold their cause with a renewed sense of zeal.

You might be saying “well, I never liked Hardcore either, so why pay mind to this one” and I am glad you bring that up because there is a very Metal and Heavy Melodic Rock mixed into the Hardcore riffs with “Life And Times” and while that is not the true format of the NYHC, listeners should remember that morphing from your original style is what keeps a band interesting at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, as there is some heavy stuff going on here and the lyrical content is sound and gets to the point about the genres beliefs again and again. Personally I leaned towards the more straight-ahead Metal tracks like “Threat Assessment” and “Tribulations”. For “Threat” I could feel the circle pit building and some parts of “Tribulations” had me playing air drums. There was a lot of diversity here and credit should be given to drummer Darren Morgenthaler who really keeps the percussive side of things interesting. A lot of the Hardcore and Punk material finds a steady one, two, one two or blast beat type patterns but Darren makes sure to showcase the skills he has as the melodies go forward. The lineup has changed since the bands humble Lower East Side beginnings and while singer Williams is still in place, Joe Affe remains the only guitarist and now bass is handled by Mike Shaw. One guitar seems to do the trick for the band and Affe has been involved for years so knows whets expected. He also worked with Billy Milano in M.O.D. for a time so has some good chops. There were a couple of times where I felt that Williams’’ vocal register was grating on me in some numbers but I should still mention how he did great on more of the tracks than less in my opinion. Listeners should be prepared for clean vocals and no growling which I rather enjoyed for a change and while there are the occasional rallying crowd yells from the rest of the lineup when required that is the gruffest that we find the singing getting. They seemed to be focused on melody and harmony which I felt worked out very well and separated them from the pack just a little bit more. The album comes with a foldout booklet that offers a few individual photos of the guys and one group shot along with the lyrics. It’s important to know what the songs are singing about since the whole NYHC scene was about heart and passion for a way of life. Take a few minutes to learn from these songs about those times in how the band visualized them. I feel this is a solid choice for those who might enjoy some Hardcore vibe in their Metal or vice-versa and it’s a great way to support some worthy musical ideas. Check it out.

Track Listing:
1. Life and Times
2. Paper Bullets
3. Fight My Way Back
4. And The Walls
5. Threat Assessment
6. By All Means
7. Tribulations
8. Those Condemned
9. Myself
10. What Goes Around
11. Truth & Consequence
12. Realize
13. Middle Of Nowhere
14. As You Were Before
15. If I Fall

Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/MAXIMUM-PENALTY-148585099044/

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