Letter to the Exiles – The Shadow Line

Hardcore seems to be a grab bag these days. Sometimes you get a record and it’s a winner and awesome. Sometimes you listen to a record and it sucks.

Letter to the Exiles’ The Shadow Line, the band’s Strike First Records debut, is a bit of a clunker. I had high hopes for this record because Erich Barto, former Alove For Enemies vocalist, was the front man. But where Alove For Enemies always came across as raw and aggressive, the production on The Shadow Lines hinders what could’ve been a decent album.

Musically, The Shadow Line is pretty standard hardcore. Not far from ALFE’s sound but more melodic and more metal infused. But what kills this record is the production. The guitars are muffled and are the driving force of the record. Barto’s vocals get lost in the mix. The album as a whole has a muddy quality that too the normal listener might not be a big deal but it strikes me as odd and distracting.

The album comes across as low budget compared to more recent Strike First and Facedown releases. You expect hard hitting triggered drums but the drums on The Shadow Line are under produced and sound flat. Where Wrench in the Works punched you in the face with double kick machine gun style drums, Letter to the Exiles feels like a baby hitting your hand.

It’s disappointing. In the world of hardcore and metal, The Shadow Line is an album that can be missed.

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