I'm not going to pretend I'm anywhere near as down with UK Hardcore as I was when I was seventeen, and I'm not going to pretend I was ever even that involved with the scene back then. But I am going to be presumptuous enough to say that I at least still know good hardcore when I hear it (though it also helps if you can see it, too, to make sure they're not wearing basketball shorts), and the records Bastions have put out over the past year have been awesome and fresh by any country or scene's standards. I think everyone's still a little hung up on Have Heart breaking up, or getting far too in to pop punk or something, but it's rare that I hear straight up hardcore that is good and at least vaguely original lately.

Anyway, it turns out Bastions weren't a one-off, labelmates and tourmates Kerouac are definitely of a kind, but doing things differently enough to stand up on their own. Cold And Distant, Not Loving blasts through seven tracks in seventeen minutes and it never stops moving. It's furious, heavy and, to be honest, makes Gallows sound pathetic. Yeah, I said it. I never liked Gallows anyway, and records like this only show that their position in UK hardcore is completely undeserved.

Kerouac aren't a metalcore band. Just so you know. Although there's occasional blast beats and breakdowns, the guitar work isn't pronounced and squealingly technical enough. But there is a metal feel to the record that suggests they're at least heavily influenced by hardcore bands that are heavily influenced by metal bands. There's a little bit of grind in there too, in the faster songs when the vocals get a little more twisted and distorted, and it all works really well. Like Bastions, they actually hold a candle to the legends, those giants of hardcore and metalcore, Converge and Botch, and not much of a higher praise can be given to bands in this genre. This is big and loud, and the crushing weight of this record never lets up for a second.

Maybe it's poor taste to spend a good chunk of one band's review talking about another band. Maybe it's arrogant to declare a couple of bands amongst the genre's best when it's a genre I'm pretty far removed from these days. But you know what? I'm drunk enough on this awesome re-issue record to think I could fight anyone who disagrees, so step up.