It’s a common tale. When a classic band becomes more revered with the passage of time, demand for something new grows. And once early material becomes reissued, or the band reunites for one or a series of shows, the stage is set for a full-on reunion. In the case of Hamilton, Ontario’s CHOKEHOLD, the act’s back catalogue was reissued in 2015 followed by some shows. Some could see it a mile away, but whatever the case may be, the seeds were planted for “With This Thread I Hold On”, the vegan straight-edge hardcore punk band’s first full-length album in almost a quarter century.
Their story began in 1990, and the Canadian act built a reputation not long thereafter. This was the same time that hardline—a noticeably more conservative and stricter offshoot of straight edge hardcore punk—bands like RAID and VEGAN REICH were carving their niche, and all such bands and sub-genres and sub-scenes mutually piggybacked upon one another. But CHOKEHOLD clearly had more in common with Syracuse, New York’s renowned metalcore act EARTH CRISIS, certainly in terms of the shared heavy-handed, brutal, metallic delivery. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that CHOKEHOLD‘s message has always been equally important to them, and many listeners, as their metallic mayhem and hardcore punk.
“With This Thread I Hold On” marks the unit’s return after a nearly 25-year-long period of inactivity. But during the band’s heyday, CHOKEHOLD‘S productivity was in overdrive. They released a slew of EPs, demos and splits between 1990 and 1996, the centerpieces being the two full-length albums: “Prison of Hope” (1993) and “Content with Dying” (1995). They were as to the point and economical with their time spent, career-wise, during the nineties as they were with their specific songs within that time frame. “With This Thread I Hold On” is equally concise and delivered with the sense of urgency with which they desire to tackle the societal problems that their songs home in upon.
The album’s artwork is indeed quite telling of the message that lies therein. Simple but obvious images pointing toward media, religion, war and the pharmaceutical industry—familiar enough references to common tools of the trade wielded by the powers that be in their effort to control and sedate the masses—loom over a human hand holding a thread. CHOKEHOLD describes this as representative of humanity doing its best to hold onto its sanity by a thread. “Profit Over People” addresses the opioid crisis and negligence and facilitation of addiction by the industry parties responsible for it. Vocalist Chris Logan‘s passion is the most visceral element at hand, and the entire band’s collective energy is just as impassioned.
The aforementioned laundry list of societal ills isn’t anything new as far as hardcore subject matter, but CHOKEHOLD isn’t afraid of setting its sight upon hardcore itself either. “2.0” addresses the way that social media’s ubiquitous virtue signaling and call-out culture has also infected the hardcore scene. Like the songs on the rest of the album, “2.0” is delivered with the same kind of manic fury that CHOKEHOLD has always been known for. “With This Thread I Hold On” is exactly what fans of metallic hardcore need in 2019.
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