The Best of the Worst

Better Medicine

Written by: MAK on 17/02/2021 13:32:57

If there is anything to be learned about skacore bands from the US, is that as an average, they just do it harder than everyone else and is far more experimental than just making ska-punk sound heavy. One prime example would be NJ skacore crew The Best of the Worst, who are on the cusp of releasing “Better Medicine”, their second full-length album, following 2013’s “Perspectives”. With a selection of EP releases between the full-lengths, The Best of the Worst have been gradually securing themselves as one of the most recommended skacore bands to come out of the States right now by their peers.

“Short Change” kicks us off with an atmospheric intro; trombone player Liz Fackleman eases us in with her soothing voice as the background music strums softly to start with. The track crescendos nicely into and punchy segment with crunchy, yet uplifting riffs and bouncy beats, almost segways us nicely into “Wishing Well”. The transition between the two tracks is so fluid and it sets up for a barrage of skank worthy upstrokes with snippets of chuggy hooks in the background like a blend of ska-punk and easycore. It doesn’t take long for the heavy side to truly kick in, with full-on breakdowns and harsh vocals from Jason Selvaggio, while the horns add for a more dramatic effect. “Counterfeit Smiles” follows up with a harder, more chaotic approach, deliver an onslaught of brutal breakdowns, with a horn rhythm that matches the intensity. The verse consists of Fackleman’s rather beautiful cleans that are balanced out by Selvaggio’s raspier melodic singing, yet as soon as the chorus kicks in, his vocals take a more ferocious turn. As skacore goes, this sounds closer to metalcore than it does hardcore, with some of the heaviest riffs I’ve heard in the genre.

Throughout the release, The Best of the Worst flutter between influences the spread from skate punk, third-wave ska, skacore and metalcore letting the harder segments clash with the melodic elements, helping each part stand out against each other. Each track has a habit of standing out in its own way. “This Morbid Way” for one acts more as a jazzy skate punk track with ska elements, while there is a heavy urgency, the softer bridge pricks the attention more. “Out of Mind” as another focus more as a basement ska type track that relies more on the melody and the skanking segments to make it stand out against other tracks. Then we have “Sour Spot” an outright banger all the way through. From the beastly blast beats in the intro to the pulsing brass hooks and the upstrokes to get any crowd moving and finally to the hard-hitting, yet anthemic and catchy chorus to have fans singing along.

The Best of the Worst appears to have saved more hooking tracks towards the back end of the release, with “Learn To Die Another Day” continuing the trend of dance-friendly anthems, with the added element of melodic angst in the vocals. This is followed up by the full-on frantic “Rotten Dichotomy”, with erratic beats, an aural attack of shouted vocals and furious riffage, yet it has by far the best horn segment on the album, I hear this and just imagine of much of a mess the skank pits would be. “Glass Hands” is perhaps the least ‘ska’ track on the release, while the brief influence is there, this comes across as more of an emotional, melodic hardcore type track. This leaves us with the title track, “Better Medicine” that combines all the influences, but focuses more on the heavier side, starting off raw and ferocious, but evolves into a proper headbanger with grooving riffs. Selvaggio and Fackleman duet again with some nice cleans that just lure us into a false sense of melody before more breakdowns kick in. Quite often bands use their final track for something soft, or for big anthemic singalongs, this however just ends with a massive bang.

Going back through older material, "Better Medicine" on whole is definitely a lot darker, a lot harder hitting than earlier releases, perhaps matching the mood of the world right now. The skacore on the album reminds me of early interpretations of the genre that were a lot rawer, and ferocious than just being a heavy brand of ska, there feels like a throwback to the likes of Folly or The Flaming Tsunamis. The blend of heavy and melodic elements works sublimely and no track overstays their welcome and it delivers an album that has little to no filler at all


Download: Sour Spot, Rotten Dichotomy, Counterfeit Smiles
For The Fans Of: Folly, The Flaming Tsunamis, Redeemon, Beat The Red Light
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.02.2021
Bad Time Records

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