Cutting Through, A Will to Change (New Age Records, 2017)

Comprised of current and former members of such hardcore bands as Unrestrained, Get the Most, Safe and Sound, Blue Monday, and Go it Alone, Portland's Cutting Through is one of New Age Records' latest signees. A Will to Change is the group's debut EP and gets my attention right off the bat with a proper intro track, "Bounding Main." I used to love when hardcore bands kicked off their records with instrumentals, so I'll always welcome these kinds of openings.

Cutting Through's vocalist, Driggs, first appears on "Reflect," a track I had the honor of premiering on the site earlier this summer. Cutting Through's take on the tried and true hardcore blueprint leans on the melodic side of its spectrum, albeit with a pissed-off undercurrent running through it. A huge part of that bite comes thanks to Driggs' vocal performances. He tears through the lyrics with a measured tension of clarity and harshness that proves to be an ideal union for the band's arrangements.

A certain Youth of Today-ish vibe looms over some of the material on A Will to Change, especially on "What's in the Past," a song that comes near the midway mark of the EP. "Intro/What We Think" is a standout cut on the EP, featuring a mouth-watering breakdown that will definitely light up dance floors when Cutting Through bust it out in a live setting.

From a sonic standpoint, A Will to Change benefits from a punchy final mix that brings the vocals and guitars to the front, but when the moment calls for it, individual nuances (bass line riff intros, gang vocals) are presented with full power. Speaking of the bass, Poop's tone on this EP is fan-fucking-tastic! While it's clangy and crisp, it's not distracting in the least. It pops when it should, and fills out the sound the rest of the time. 

Cutting Through at Programme Skate and Sound, Fullerton, CA, 2017. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Picking a favorite track on the EP isn't easy, but gun-to-head, I'll go with "Intensity," the closing song on A Will to Change. In a saving the best for last move, Cutting Through deliver an anthem fit for the classic Revelation Records I grew up on. There's a certain melancholy to the track that truly sinks in once Bubbles' guitar solo section comes in its closing minute. It's—dare I say it—a gorgeous ending to an otherwise pummeling record.

Cutting Through's A Will to Change is available for preorder directly from New Age Records.

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