The Bronx

The Bronx (III)

[3.5/5]

Over the course of two albums and a handful of EPs and singles, Los Angeles-based street warriors the Bronx-singer Matt Caughthran, guitarist Joby J. Ford, drummer Jorma Vik and new recruits Brad Magers (bass) and Ken Horne (guitar)-have done much to blur the lines of demarcation between hard rock and hardcore. The resultant noise is an alloy that’s far more sophisticated than your hometown’s hardcore matinees, but far more vicious than the stuff on the upper reaches of the SoundScan chart. So what does a band do when they’ve sufficiently re-written the punk ethos for their own nefarious ends?

According to The Bronx (III), it’s going back: Not to their own discography or punk’s back pages, but to apply a ’70s hard-rock mentality to their concise energy bursts. The album plays out like some kind of weird rift in time and space, where the ’80s hardcore documentary The Decline Of Western Civilization crashes headfirst into the romanticized excesses found in the ’70s-rock valentine Almost Famous. “Digital Leash” could get the band an opening slot on Aerosmith’s next tour. “Big Hollywood Cowboy” has huge choruses and that old-school Guns N’ Roses swagger, like the offspring of The Bronx (II)’s “White Guilt.” Despite Vik’s amphetamine beats in the intro, the opening track, “Knifeman,” would fit snug on classic-rock radio right after Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole.” Fortunately, Caughthran’s trademark melodic shout is still too much for the dullards who flocked to the recent Journey tour like flies to shit, but he remains key in amping up the proceedings.

But don’t assume The Bronx (III) is the product of some guys who sound winded before their psychic expiration date. On the disc’s best track, “Enemy Mind,” Ford’s guitar bites like a monitor lizard on angel dust while Vik furiously slams his drums like they were congressional lobbyists as Caughthran exhorts some inspired cynicism (“Disguise your flaws/Cover your tracks/So when history looks back/We only hear applause”). Magers is pushed up in the mix of “Spanish Handshake,” adding both texture and propulsion while Caughthran shrieks, “I am an addict/I am an animal/I am my father’s son” in a way that’s simultaneously disturbing and cathartic. Ford and Horne’s duel guitar density gives “Six Days A Week” an added menace while shoring up Caughthran’s dilated-pupil excess (“Six days no sleep/I keep my eyes wide open”).

The Bronx (III) shouldn’t be perceived as a misstep, because this band’s growing pains have more character than the parade of desperate losers saddled with the pay-to-play blues lined up in front of L.A.’s Key Club. Right now, the Bronx are learning proficiency with new techniques-and still bringing the danger. (WHITE DRUGS/ORIGINAL SIGNAL; whitedrugs.com) Jason Pettigrew



ROCKS LIKE:

The Bronx’s The Bronx (II)

Kyuss’ Wretch

Every Time I Die’s Gutter Phenomenon



TRACKLIST:

1. Knifeman

2. Inveigh

3. Past Lives

4. Enemy Mind

5. Pleasure Seekers

6. Six Days A Week

7. Young Bloods

8. Ship High In Transit

9. Minutes In Night

10. Spanish Handshake

11. Digital Leash




RELEASE DATE: Nov. 11