No Bragging Rights: Cycles

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No Bragging Rights: Cycles
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No Bragging Rights: Cycles
Melodic Hardcore, Punk Rock
eOne Music, Good Fight Music
October 16th, 2012
Release length: 35:07
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No Bragging Rights has had it pretty rough over the years. Hailing from Riverside, California, the group formed back in 1999, and it wasn’t until 1996 that they issued their debut full-length album, Because you Believe in Something Beyond Them themselves. Since then, they issued another album, two EPs, and two singles in 2010. For 2012, the group has been picked up by eOne Music to issue their third album, Cycles. But, is this enough to give the “do it yourself” group that notariety they deserve, or will this release become an offering that simply will not hit the Hardcore fans as hard as it probably should have?

Cycles definitely carries a crisp audio quality that works very well with the melodic aspects of the group’s sound. The guitars are often cleaner and more common with the Punk genre, being a bit higher pitched and with an echo during some of the more emotional melodic riffs, but can also pack a nice bite in the heavier areas, such as the breakdowns. The additional edge largely comes from the mildly low bass guitar at a level similar to the other chords. The tone of all of this does reflect the vocals nicely, either being a clean singing that borders the edge of modern Alternative Rock or Emo here and there, but overall isn’t too bad and fits the melodies well. There’s also some superb shouting when the pace picks up, a speed that shows the drumming off well too. The click of the bass kicks pound through everything, including the cymbals that are a little drowned out, and varied booms to tight snaps in the snares.

Both the audio quality and melody make Cycles an album that is rather accessable, as well as a bit upbeat. “The Advent of Change” is easily one of the darkest and heaviest tracks you’ll come across, starting off slow with a gritty shouting, allowing the tension to build before slipping into a chorus that sounds like a Hardcore anthem full of somewhat harmonized gang chants against hooks and steady bass kicks. This is a bit deceptive, but thankfully not the only edgy track to be on here. “Legacy” has a deeper tone to it, and is far from an upbeat performance. This is a little more than two minutes, and leaves much of the melody behind. There’s a good deal of high speed intensity to be found, met with some equally energetic screaming and some clean singing a little ways in before crashing into a breakdown that only continues to slow down the pass while hitting the listener as hard as it can.

Unfortunately, that’s about as dark as it’ll get, but there are still plenty of great songs that shine through. “Appraisals and Ommissions” walks the line between having a nice edge, and being a little more mainstream. The main verses have some Punk Rock oriented riffs that do bring in a nice bit of melody and emotion to them. This matches the enthusiastic clean singing quite well. However, there are plenty of really heavy breakdowns thrown in that bring in some stronger shouting, giving it a bit of a darker contrast to the rest of the music. This is also how the emotional anti-alcohol song “Cycles” starts off, throwing back to “The Advent of Change” as far as building tension goes, but heads right into more of an upbeat performance with clean singing and simpler riffs for the chorus, as well as some edgier, faster material complete with harmonized shouting, gang chants, and an out of nowhere cleaner Hardcore shouting style that is way too deep for what the music has to offer. There’s also “Fight for My Life,” which is definitely worth taking note of. The song nicely mixes the melodic and emotional aspects with straight-forward Hardcore and Punk in an upbeat, feel good final product. You’ll find your head bobbing along, even during the heaviest of moments, and the slower melodic passages that hit a little more than two minutes in will have you moved with the clean singing and gang chants, but in a manner that doesn’t feel preachy or whiny. It’s just a fun song with a solid performance all around that simply needs to be heard.

No Bragging Rights ends up a nice hidden gem among the Hardcore community. Despite the accessable, upbeat, or even mainstream sounding elements, this still has plenty of material well worth hearing. It’s a shame that this is only the groupo’s third outing given how early they formed, but it’s about time a bigger label took notice to help them earn the respect and attention they rightly deserve. While the clean singing can sometimes border a bit too whiny, the album seems like a personal declaration from the members involved, and many tracks here will definitely connect with similar personal struggles their new or loyal fans are probably going through as well. If you have yet to check out No Bragging Rights, then Cycles is an album well worth seeking out, especially if this brand of Hardcore is your cup of tea.

01. The Advent of Change – 3:02
02. Hope Theory – 3:59
03. Appraisals and Ommissions – 3:55
04. Cycles – 3:14
05. Not My Salvation – 3:46
06. Legacy – 2:17
07. Fight for My Life – 3:56
08. Repeater – 4:10
09. The Prequel – 3:19
10. Ascensions – 3:29
Overall Score: 8.5/10
No Bragging Rights (band)
No Bragging Rights
Digital review copy of this release provided by eOne Music.