Reviewed by Christian Cunningham
San Jose hometown boys Leaders (formerly Allornothing) are making a name for themselves with this their first for Facedown. Comprised of 10 tracks, this is a slice of quality American hardcore in the vein of such luminaries as Hatebreed and Living Sacrifice, and there is much to be excited about for their future. Rather refreshingly, the breakdowns, whilst still liberally spattered across the entirety of the record, manage to sound unique and varied and yet still retain that quintessential hardcore sound, avoiding the recycled riff déjà-vu of so many modern hardcore bands. The six-string wielder Alfie Tovar lays down some delicious syncopated riffage in concert with bassist JC Villareal that keeps us either guessing or frantically moshing by turn, and Leaders also utilise some hauntingly dark lead guitar parts to add a whole atmospheric layer to their sound; check out tracks like "Leaders" and "Send-up". Worth special mention is the drumming of Elijah Martinez and the vocal snarls of Lazarus Rios; with a full throated roar Rios leads the aural assault and possesses a voice that is the real deal, and Martinez's kick fills are song-defining, such as at the close of "Deportes" or in the trudge-sludge breakdowns of "Alone". It's not all roses though; the album length is somewhat lightweight and there's a pointless filler track ("Te Necesito") slap-bang in the middle is a speed bump that feels totally out of place. But Leaders quickly steady the boat and nail their colours to the mast on the final four tracks, ending with the stupendous "La Onda", truly saving the best for last. With frontman Rios' heartfelt roar of "God / how can you love / someone like me / after everything / I've put You through" ringing in the listener's ears at the end of proceedings, this is a passionate, heavy, sweaty and genuine sounding cut of not just music, but hardcore heart.
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