Crime In Stereo were relatively unheard of outside of the closely knit hardcore punk scene of Long Island until a break with The Hope Conspiracy and the Cro-Mags brought their raw, unadulterated style to the attention of Ensign's Tim Shaw. This led to an impressive split single with Kill Your Idols, and the expectations for this, their full-length debut, have been high.
Hailed as combining 'a fast pace mix of old school youth-crew and more modern melodic hardcore styles', Crime In Stereo seem to have risen from the underground just in time to catch the crest of a new wave of interest in their personal brand of stripped down NY hardcore. And they're proud of their pedigree, quoting a plethora of old school influences which have shaped their current sound, although this may also explain why at times they struggle to sound truly original.
In terms of production, Explosives And The Will To Use Them does offer something refreshing in terms of its under-produced, natural sound. Stripped back and sparse, this recording presents a raw, unrefined feel which hints at a deep identification with original hardcore themes. Despite lacking a little in the way of musical adventure - on occasions the album can sound over-familiar - Alex Dunne and Shawn Gardiner show that they are not only highly competent at thrashing away on guitar but can also turn a decent riff when needed.
Lyrically the band cite Joe Strummer of The Clash and Tommy Corrigan from Silent Majority as major influences, claiming that 'they're intelligent and not pretentious'. Consequently, the lyrics on this offering are sharp and direct, with tracks like Amsterdamned! and Arson particularly standing out. Although they're not always easy to decipher through the jagged melee of lead singer Kristian Hallbert's voice - who at least makes an effort to sing and not just shout his way through. There's your usual collection of catchy crew choruses and the occasional moment of genuine musical invention, which offers a glimpse of good things to come, and leaves a strong impression that this band may well be awesome to watch live.
At just under 29 minutes, some frustrated fans may find themselves left wanting more, but I'd say that Crime In Stereo have pitched it right and by holding something back and not burning themselves out before they've had a chance to truly get off the ground.
:: Tom West