Sick Of It All - When The Smoke Clears album review

NYHC crew mark three pit-starting decades

A press shot of Sick Of It All taken in 2016

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2016 marks the 30-year milestone for this crucial New York hardcore band, and what better way to celebrate than with five new tracks and a limited edition 60-page art book? Unsurprisingly, the music is Sick Of It All tried and true with energetic songwriting, empowering lyrics, gang shouts, and the strong, crackly vocals of Lou Koller leading the frontline.

The title track and Fortress provide strong bookends. Black Venom is aggressive and slower paced with particularly scathing roars, Doomed Campaign a more classic old-school punk number with plentiful singalongs, and Blood & Steel has moving lyrics despite some slightly forgettable music. Meanwhile, the accompanying booklet is gorgeous. It showcases a collection of powerful photos spanning the band’s career and the volatile pits, air kicks, stage sweat and headbands all offer a timeline of the band’s heart and vigour. In the mix are homages to each band member written by respected members of the scene. Gorilla Biscuits’ Arthur Smilios’ words about Craig Setari personify the bassist in a particularly delightful way and Dennis Lyxzén of Refused recognises and appreciates the band’s success in staying true to their roots in an ever-changing world. It’s little wonder that Sick Of It All have inspired talent and fans for so long.