First of all, let us bring you up to speed…
Turnstile are a hardcore band spanning over Maryland/Washington D.C. and Ohio, in the good ol’ United States of America. They are more notably fronted by Brendan Yates who you may know as the drummer from Trapped Under Ice, and they rest of the band is also made up of Brady Ebert and Sean Cullen on guitars, Daniel Fang on drums, and Franz Lyons on bass duties, who also is an independent hip-hop MC as well under the moniker of Freaky Franz.
They released their debut 7″ vinyl only EP entitled ‘Pressure To Succeed‘ in 2011, and gained a loyal underground following in the process. Only until recently was we made aware of the band and their latest release ‘Step 2 Rhythm‘, but so refreshing was this EP we had to review it.
Usually we are reviewing bands that have upcoming releases on purely CD and digital formats, so this is a refreshing change to be reviewing a release that has been exclusively released on 7″ vinyl only!
One thing you need to know about Turnstile is that they make hardcore music that the uneducated of the modern generation would be all quite unfamiliar with, musically due to there being some sweet groove ridden rhythms, a greater presence of guitar solos, occasionally reverb soaked riffs, and of course vocal harmonies.
They are influenced by late 80’s/early 90’s NYHC and crossover hardcore. More notably citing influences from early 90’s era Madball, Suicidal Tendencies, seminal hardcore crossover kings Leeway, and the notorious Crown Of Thornz, which if you did not know was the band that was originally Lord Ezec (a.k.a. Danny Diablo)’s first hardcore band.
Now if you do not know who most of these bands that they are influenced by are, then we suggest you do some homework and check out the bands whom they are inspired by, so you can get a good idea as to where Turnstile are coming from, because what they deliver with ‘Step 2 Rhythm‘ is a refreshing, short and sweet hardcore release that further challenges the state of the modern hardcore guidelines, and leans heavily towards the lessons taught by the old school.
The opening track ‘7‘ almost misguides you with the first 30 seconds of the song, which almost deceivingly sounds like the beginning of a long lost Pearl Jam demo from the early 90’s with some effects-laden feedback and high notes, before kicking in to a raging and quite life affirming riff that you may well recognise as the intro to ‘After Forever‘. Followed by a combination of riffs taken from the song ‘Don’t Kill Yourself To Live‘ by Pro Pain. By this point, all preconceptions are shattered and we are well on our way.
The two combined together make for an excellent EP opener, and seriously sets the mood for the rest of the EP.
‘Keep It Moving‘ is a song which contains some sweet vocal and guitar melodies that is very reminiscent of ‘Desperate Measures‘ era Leeway, which drives for a great first track to follow up from the ‘7’ intro.
This is all followed up by the energy burst that is ‘Canned Heat‘, which was released earlier this year as a promotional video in support of ‘Step 2 Rhythm‘. Short, sharp, and sweet, this immediate firecracker would not sound out of place on a Down To Nothing release.
Next comes ‘Pushing Me Away‘, the stand-out track on the EP by far. A great tune with a very cool dual guitar solo which sounds like they have been taking lessons from members of Leeway, and Rocky George from Suicidal Tendencies. The drum rhythm is absolutely killer on this particular track (which almost seems to have been born from the bastard love-child of Snapcase‘s ‘Guilty By Ignorance‘, and Crown Of Thornz‘s ‘Juggernaut‘), setting an above average speed that is not too fast, but is the perfect to walk / stage dive to with a purpose, and kick some serious ass to. Particularly in the closing minute of the song where the faded outro is of a destructive yet simplistic hardcore breakdown that is still lethal enough to bring down the house. A definite fan favourite in the making.
‘Better Way‘ quickly follows from the epic breakdown of the previous song, and delivers a more anthemic punch with the old school flavour, and is a definite two-step worthy song which you can sure as hell sing along to as well.
Towards the end of the EP we are left with the riff and groove heavy instrumental track ‘Snaked‘, which almost acts like the clam before the storm, before the closing track ‘Step 2 Rhythm‘ arrives.
The first half of the song is a sheer blistering lesson in old school style crossover hardcore with a gradual breakdown which leads in to a very interesting latter half of the song. The second part is broken down with a very sinister yet brooding minor key bass hook over a gradual pace-built drum rhythm, with some reverb soaked guitar feedback and a light synthesised sample to fade it all out. It surely is a simple yet creative way to end an EP, especially to the standards of the modern hardcore template.
To be honest, it is real refreshing to actually hear a hardcore release that ultimately is not life changing, but it certainly brings a new flavour to the game which has not been seen or heard in a very long time. The only downside with ‘Step 2 Rhythm‘… there was not enough material to leave us fully satisfied! It is seven short bursts of raw energy that leaves as quickly as it comes in to your senses.
Turnstile have demonstrated a short yet sweet understanding of the concepts and ideas of crossover-era hardcore, and brought it to the table with a modern twist of their own, by also proving that you do not need to scream/shout in order to make a great hardcore record. This is by far the most original and true to the roots release that has been heard in quite a while, and in the making Turnstile have just made a rough diamond in the process. Quite simply a slice of raw genius which pays homage to the forefathers of crossover hardcore punk, and yet delivers a breath of fresh air to a rather stale modern hardcore culture.
‘Step 2 Rhythm‘ is now available on 7″ vinyl via Reaper Records.
Reviewer: James Paul Matthews