Linebacker XL, LBXL (2022)

Linebacker XL is a new band from the burgeoning Kent County, Ontario, hardcore scene.

They share a member with another band I recently reviewed, Just Right. That member is wearing a Bulldoze t-shirt in the LBXL promo pic, which makes a lot of sense, as LBXL is going for a heavy, slamming beatdown sound.

This demo seems more authentic compared to Just Right, who were trying to sneak punkish riffs into a metalcore formula. LBXL are letting the freak flag fly, unabashedly leaning into the type of modern metal that contemporary hardcore tastemakers might turn their nose at.

They have scat rap vocals, open-chug two-step parts and bass drops. While some bands try to hide their metalcore roots, LBXL are actively sprinkling it into the classic hardcore they love. 

They’re structurally shooting for a mainline hardcore influence, as indicated by the song lengths. Opener “Silence” blows by at 1:12, but feels like a fully fleshed out track.

I appreciate the shorter songs—I think beatdown can very easily become unlistenable when it starts to overstay its welcome. LBXL sticks to a simple formula and doesn’t leave any room to offend. These are, at their core, straightforward hardcore songs.

I think the beatdown leanings on this project allow for a plurality in musical style. Beatdown seems to be a melting pot for everything from 90’s NYHC to today’s gauged ears metalcore, and that’s what we’re getting on this demo. 

There are also some death metal leads here, suggesting these dudes know (either innately, or second-hand via something like the Maggot Stomp roster) how bands like Suffocation informed Castle Heights hardcore.

The song “Opposite” is a short, violent burst of energy. It does cascade from breakdown to breakdown, but that’s a tried-and-true beatdown formula. Sprinkle in the song’s modern twists, and we’re getting something that has one foot in 90’s music but feels like a genuine product of the people making it.

The demo’s closer, “Judas Tree” has a bit more going on. It’s got ambition beyond trying to beat you over the head with mosh riffs. There’s a couple upbeat, chaotic parts that call to mind something like I don’t know if this is what LBXL was going for or if it happened by accident. 

The aesthetic of this demo, from the ridiculous band name, to the appropriately jockish Jon Mayo art, make it seem like the goal was pure ignorance. “Judas Tree” betrays that a little bit. Not in a bad way, though. We’re just left wondering—what will the direction be if we get a longer project? Are LBXL hinting at something ambitious, or is that a remnant of past influence, as they move further towards the simple goal of making minute and a half long beatdown songs?

I guess time will tell.

I don’t love this demo, but that’s purely a taste thing. I think it’s executed well. This is four dudes expressing themselves earnestly and having a good time doing it. It’s competent and concise. 

Youngsters on the path from big room metalcore to the equally aggro but more streetwise and stripped-down world of '90s inspired thug music, like Gridiron and Pain of Truth, should certainly check this out.

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