Published Sep 19, 2014Portland, Maine's Cruel Hand have followed an eerily similar path to Toronto's No Warning. Both adopted the New York hardcore sound of Madball et al. despite originating hours north from its mecca. Unfortunately, despite the fact that its Sum 41-plays-hardcore style wasn't that bad, the Canadian band's poppier sound on Suffer, Survive resulted in criticism and outright derision. Those same detractors better prepare to have an aneurism, as Cruel Hand have pushed the pop sheen even further on The Negatives.
This wouldn't be a problem if the quality wasn't as sporadic as their releases post-Lock & Key. The title track is as bland as it gets, with very little semblance to hardcore, while "Pissing – Spitting," the second-least hardcore track, is bizarrely catchy. "Heat" and "Unhinged – Unraveled" sound like b-sides from No Warning's hated swansong.
It's not all bad though: "Monument Square People" takes the Suffer, Survive sound to its logical conclusion, while "Why Would I" sounds closer to their earlier material. In a time when Turnstile and Angel Du$t — two overtly fun hardcore bands — are popular, perhaps the formula won't go over that poorly. Who knows? But for the long-time listener, it's too bad that The Negatives outweigh the positives here. (Hopeless)