What The Fight bring to the contemporary hardcore scene is a youthful modern reimagining of some of the genre’s most confrontational and important bands. They draw from the likes of Negative Approach, Sheer Terror, and Kill Your Idols while also managing to harness a sound reminiscent of the UK punk and Oi! scene. As bassist John Scanlon puts it, “We more or less wanted to have the band sound this way because there wasn’t any bands on LI that sounded like bands we liked. More or less we wanted to show the current younger kids that are involved in the scene that you don’t need to have breakdowns to be a hardcore band, not sure if they got the memo or not.”
So there’s a conscious effort to at once bring a sound back from the past while also making it timely. What’s more is that, even with such periodic influences, The Fight manage to offer a recording with a modern feel, and their forthcoming 12” EP, The Master Is Calling, is a great first proper release.
From the opening feedback on the EP’s first song, “Master,” the band sets the tone for a fast, angry, and subtly thoughtful record. The song itself rages along with speedy cascading rhythms complemented by similarly fast well-placed guitar leads. It’s those leads that add great dimension and musicianship to the band’s sound, elevating an already well-written hardcore punk song to even stronger plateaus. From a thematic standpoint the song also keys the listener into much of frontman Kyle Fee’s lyrical content. “The song ‘Master,’ references the use of dog whistle politics and codes in order to proliferate covert racism. The current administration operates not only on this covert level, but on an overt level of racism and bigotry as well. I also speak about the chaotic nature of governance that the administration is employing. It creates confusion within the public, and truth becomes irrelevant to some. This is the shit that makes my blood boil,” says Fee of the song and the EP’s title. The lyrics and music complement each other here as well. All is confrontation.
The EP is undeniably political, a fact that none of the members dispute or shy away from. Bassist John Scanlon is quick to point out that “everyone is on the same level in that aspect.” The EP’s second track, “Nuke Long Island,” brings those politics into focus in a very personal way. Driven by dynamic horse-hopping riffs that call to mind the aforementioned Negative Approach and strong drumming, the song takes on the destruction of the island they call home. Fee’s short aggressive vocal delivery follows closely to the guitar rhythms only to crescendo in time with a pounding drum beat. “The song, in my opinion, is obviously more about the problems Long Island is filled with. You have an absurd amount of Trump supporters and the overall fact that we’re destroying our home/earth in general,” offers Scanlon. So, there are layers to what The Fight offers the listener.
Part of the EP’s appeal, in fact, is its listenability. The Master Is Calling is as much a great modern hardcore release as it is modern political commentary, and the listener isn’t beholden to focusing on both aspects together.
“Deaf and Dumb,” one of the EP’s strongest tracks, highlights the band’s ability to balance speed and angst with catchiness and musicianship. Even in the verses there are cleverly flowing rhythms. Similarly the drums manage to fit some great snare rolls and thudding tom beats that give breadth to the song. It’s in the song’s main guitar lead though that everything comes together. Mind you, the track is barely two minutes long, so The Fight manage to pack a lot in. But what all of those parts bring together is a song that reminds the listener of a hardcore punk band that understands the balance between melody and abrasiveness.
That balance is probably drawn out in the writing process for the band. As both Scanlon and Fee put it, their guitarists are the foundational songwriters. But there is a sense of collaboration overall. “Usually Quinn or Dylan will come in with ideas and we’ll try putting it together as a band. We all throw ideas out there but I’d say Quinn and Dylan are the real masterminds. I’ll usually shoot ideas about transitions and stuff like that,” says Scanlon. The writing on the EP is both coherent and layered. All seven songs share foundational elements while also standing out in their own right.
The EP’s best song is "Generations Lost," which also demonstrates that coherence and ingenuity. Opening with a driving skate punk riff, the entire song draws on the melodic but aggressive sensibilities of the similarly aforementioned Kill Your Idols. Combining hook-driven guitar rhythms and leads with the throaty staccato vocal delivery makes “Generations Lost” a song that covers a lot of ground. And even with the strong musicianship, the band still commits the song to socio-political awareness.
“’Generations Lost’ is a song that speaks to different aspects of the criminal justice and prison system in our country. Not only does it incarcerate people of color at an inequitable rate, but also is run, in many instances, by private companies who see the prisoners they serve as dollar signs,” says Fee. The lyrical content here might seem counterintuitive to such a catchy song but that is of no matter. In fact, the content only serves to reinforce the band’s commitment to socially conscious life.
By all accounts The Fight is a young band. The Master Is Calling is their first proper release. And yet there is a maturity in both sound and ethos here. The Fight have a vision for their music, and that gives them purpose. And the anger and vitriol captured on their debut EP is not to be undercut. They’re pissed at the world in front of them, and their music is a reflection of that. They have a bunch of shows lined up through their record release this September on Long Island but bassist Scanlon remains coy on what the long-term future holds for them, remarking simply, “Who knows, probably more shows and music.” Let’s hope so.
The Master Is Calling is available for pre-order now from The Fight’s Bandcamp page.
The Fight shows:
08/03 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ Break Away, Regulate, Year of the Knife, Sanction, Krust, Downfall, Flatline
09/15 - Amityville, NY @ Amityville Music Hall w/ Jukai (final show), Forced Order, Mindforce, Illusion, Dominant Force