Montreal-based hardcore band Offside and their debut release Brotherhood EP are helping keep the spirit of old school hardcore alive. With textbook song structures that provide a necessary “in your face” attitude and lyrical themes of unity, they stay true to the genre. Where this release falls most flat, however, is in its production. There are too many mishaps on each of the EP’s four tracks for the whole thing to sound like anything above mediocrity.
The album starts off with the appropriately named “Intro,” a pretty reserved two-and-a-half-minute instrumental track that is very straightforward and sets the mood for the EP pretty well. Unfortunately, rhythmic hiccups and subpar production quality become apparently pretty quick. Granted, this piece of work was mastered by Don Fury, whose well known in the scene for producing some of the greats back in the day, but even the band’s performance is far from perfect for this EP to be on the same level as those 80s bands that influence Offside. I’ve never liked excusing sub-par production quality solely because, “Oh, that’s part of the genre, so that makes it okay.” You can still produce a raw and dirty sounding album without choppy transitions and unsteady drumming.
Aside from this, the actual content of the EP is pretty solid. The effective song structure and powerful, if simple, lyrical themes work well for the sound Offside is going for, and definitely pays homage to the hardcore pioneers of the 80s. My only issue, other than the sound, is with the lead vocals on the last three songs. Simon’s screams are locked in this high register and the lack of edge caused by this makes his vocal delivery almost comical at times. Even in songs like “Checked Out” and “Loudmouth,” the vocals make it hard to take their anger seriously.
As I mentioned, the music itself is solid and true to the spirit of the genre. Fury did a great job of making Offside sound like they’re from the original Gorilla Biscuits-era. I’d actually check these guys out if I found out they’re playing my city, it’s just unfortunate that their raw energy and passion didn’t translate well to a recorded format in this case. Although a simple re-recording and re-mixing can fix most of Brotherhood EP’s problems, the end product still makes for an underwhelming listen.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy