World Be Free occupies a very particular space in the in today’s musical landscape. A sort of hardcore supergroup featuring members of Terror (vocalist Scott Vogel), Judge (drummer Sammy Siegler), Strife (guitarist Andrew Kline) and Gorilla Biscuits (bassist Arthur Smilios), World Be Free is not the sum of its parts or a reflection of hardcore in 2016. Full length début, The Ant-Circle (Revelation), is more of a simulacrum of the New York and DC hardcore sounds of yesteryear with the occasional dash of pop-punk hooks.
And as an homage to those reverential 1980s bands, The Anti-Circle seems to check all the boxes. There’s an economical approach as 14 tracks come and go in less than half an hour and with only one clocking in at over three minutes. ‘Shake the Ghost’ and ‘Never Slip’ are fantastic examples of making the most with just the necessary musical ingredients.
However, while World Be Free’s riffs and lyrics were designed with the intention of channeling the vitality of their musical heroes, The Anti-Circle feels likes its spinning wheels. When Vogel bellows “You’ll never be a part of my world,” or “The times have changed” it doesn’t come across as empowering or intriguing as it isn’t saying anything Black Flag didn’t already say in 1981 (albeit in a much more satirical tone). And since its treading such familiar creative waters it, songs like ‘World Be Free,’ ‘All These Colors’ and ‘Breakout or Busted’ fail to distinguish themselves from one another.
That’s not to say that there aren’t successful moments of musical reverence to be found on The Anti-Circle. While probably the most tuneful song of the bunch, ‘Empty Things’ impresses with Kline’s melodic guitar lines. Also when World Be Free decides to shift gears and speed up they can generate some worthy slam dancing like in ‘I’m Done.’
World Be Free has a great album within them. It’s all a matter of them addressing the line between impression and homage.
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