While New Tenants literally sounds like the sort of rap metal hardcore hybrid you would expect from a group of suburban white boys, Unity by Collision often shows traces of Rage Against the Machine and a less edgy early Beastie Boys approach, all laced with nods to the like of The Sword, Agnostic Front, as well as Stuck Mojo. Yes this is mostly fuelled by rap, but when you think about the way the songs are composed and how it all sounds, it makes perfect sense that the band would go in this direction. And, well, it leads to a really enjoyable experience just soaked with nineties attitude in a way that is true respect to those bands and not just a play off nostalgia in hopes of selling more copies.
“Bust Out” has that Beastie Boys early hardcore presence in spades in the main verses, not to mention a bit of a southern flair that shows up elsewhere throughout the release as well. The chorus, however, starts showing that signature Rage Against the Machine flair that is established in the first groove heavy chorus, and seems to just linger in everything that follows it. It’s a fairly simple, casual track overall, but it’s impossible to say it isn’t infectious to the point where you instinctively start bobbing your head along to it.
Much of what this four-piece brings to the table can be described as fun party anthems with or without a hint of frat boy brotherly authority in the mix, all with a fairly laid back tone. “Killing Seasons” even has a brief freeform bridge that comes off more like something torn from a Phish or even 311 track before heading back into some catchy Pantera-like grooves once more. Even the initial two examples listed nicely sum up “Break You Again”, which has some of that stoner metal complexity in the chords with a decent amount of grandeur at times, but what really sticks out are the few laid back jam session passages that is intertwined quite well.
In fact, it’s clear the band is trying to present more of an uplifting positivity than anything, something “Fade Away” makes pretty obvious with the self-empowering lyrics about being yourself, how precious life is, and basically saying suicide isn’t the way to go. It’s a highly commendable message that creates a lyrical presence that often is indirectly felt throughout the album. Then there’s “Battlecry”, one of the more aggressive tracks on Unity by Collision next to the aforementioned song’s breakdown near the end. The initial grooves of the start do carry a lighter rapcore approach with confidence, but some of the additional guitar work and effects, not to mention some of the drum patterns in the bridges leading to the chorus, do scream that later career Rage Against the Machine influence, especially when the lyrics take up a political stand point with nods to weaponry and people unifying for good measure. The end, however, does become a little less restrained with additional distortions, even on the vocals, allowing the band a brief period to show off what they’ve when unrestrained.
Sadly, there are some downfalls scattered about the release. “You Only Know the Half” has a decent groove to the main verses, though the simplified chorus just feels overly basic at times, even when it gets a little more intense towards the end of it. It also seems out of place initially, but even when the music starts to match the edginess by the second verse, the music seems to jump between fun and overly serious in a manner that the vocals simply cannot back up. Other than that, there’s “JAMY”. Other than the Mission Impossible theme song knock-off at the start, the real reason this one falls in this particular category is because the one obscenity on the entire effort is bleeped out for some reason. It isn’t just with the promo copy I received, as it’s also there if you stream the song on their Bandcamp page, which more than likely means it’s also on the downloadable version if you pay for it. If that’s the case and no uncensored version exists, it actually makes you sound fake. If you’re against the swear being there, then use a different word instead of covering it up and trying to distract us as if it weren’t really there. While it doesn’t hurt the catchiness of the music, it does make you less credible overall when your entire album is nothing but one honest message after another, almost going against your own words on “Fade Away”, changing yourself to better fit someone else’s expectations, the polar opposite of what the main philosophy of punk and hardcore is all about.
That last negative note aside, Unity by Collision is a surprisingly fun and upbeat effort. The positivity included here is something I highly applaud the band for despite the fact it clearly is trying to emulate both of the bands mentioned earlier, not to mention just a nice break from the norm, regardless whether you’re knee deep in the metal world, hardcore community, or have a steady diet of mainstream or pop. The easy going performances are met with one catchy hook after another, all joined with a bit of authority that compliments the easy accessability of the compositions, leading New Tenants to be as quick a party band choice as an Andrew W.K. release. If you’re open enough to experience new things, and don’t immediately take offense to the band proclaiming you be yourself while censoring their own message for reasons that hopefully don’t involve money going into their pockets, Unity by Collision is something worth checking out, even though you won’t come across anything too unique in the heavy nineties world that can’t be ignored.