No Bragging Rights - Illuminator

Album cover
Hardcore, Post-hardcore
Blkheart Group
No Bragging Rights
Illuminator
No Bragging Rights - Illuminator Review rating:
2
User rating:
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

It is undeniably hard to stick out these days in the hardcore or post-hardcore scenes. The lines between the two are constantly being blurred (alongside pop-punk, electronica and the like), and few bands are able to do something truly memorable to stand out from the muddled middle. No Bragging Rights aren’t one of those bands. Sure, they pull you in like a (insert what type of person you are attracted to), but then they just end up having a bad personality you can’t stand after hanging out a few times. Maybe that is a bad analogy, but NBR certainly won’t be able to keep your interest too long after you spin Illuminator a few times, which is surely a shame considering the few bright spots presented through this record.

NBR’s hardcore foundation is at the forefront throughout this record, as the blistering tempos of tracks like “Weeding Out the Weak” and the title track combine with chunky guitar riffs to get your feet moving in whatever sweaty little venue these guys might currently be inhabiting. Though you could easily pigeonhole this as metalcore or whatever the catchy genre name of the week is, this record speaks immediately to me as a very hardcore-influenced product. Sure, there are certainly parts where you think you might be listening to a mediocre Of Mice & Men due to the stale breakdown rhythms in an already overdone tuning, but these sections are getting harder and harder to differentiate as more bands pour into the scene. Instead, point yourself to the lick-littered verses of “Blind Faith”, a thundering track that sheds its breakdown intro for a blistering tempo and a much better result.

The biggest disappointment on this record comes in the form of the vocals. Mike Perez can certainly handle himself in terms of spouting a solid voice for this style of music – a style shout than scream that again harkens thoughts of pile-ons and stage dives. Yet, in a scene full of mindful and certainly more creative lyricists, NBR suffers from a bad case of mediocrity in the lyrics department. Just go to a show and find the kids wearing those ever-popular shirts where there is a picture of the band playing live on the back with lyrics on it. You’ll be hard pressed to find something more bland than most of what Illuminator has to offer in this department. Throwing in the completely unnecessary sort-of pig squeal in “And They Threatened Us With Fire” is also a bad and completely out-of-character move. The clean vocals on Illuminator are a slightly redeeming quality, but as with almost everything else on this front, the lyricism just pulls it down.

At first listen, Illuminator can be a good time for anyone who enjoys hardcore or throwing down in the occasional mosh pit. But after a few listens and the ‘brand new’ feeling wears off, you’ll be left with something less exciting and certainly not as enticing as the first time around.

1. Beautiful and Spineless
2. 6th & Main
3. Weeding Out the Weak
4. Cease Fire
5. Illuminator
6. Empire: Disarray
7. The Prospect
8. Blind Faith
9. Recognition
10. And They Threatened Us With Fire
11. Death of an Era
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