I.R.A./Hellhounds

Side by Side (Buds/SoFla)

One of the finer punk-rock traditions, and certainly one that's easy on the pockets, is the split album format. More than saving a little cash for the labels involved, it brings together similar bands from different parts of the world onto one slab. Such is the case with locals the Hellhounds and Colombia's finest (and longest-running) hardcore-punk band, I.R.A.

The pairing is good too. With similar gang-sounding vocals and a street punk/hardcore feel, both bands run with their respective dozen tracks.

For their opening half, I.R.A. turns out a well-produced and recorded product. The levels are just right, and Monika's drumming and vocal work has never sounded better. Viola's vocals and guitar work are on par with his 20 years buzz-sawing through Latin American red tape. "¿Quien es el Burro?" ("Who is the Ass?"), "Deja Vivir" ("Let Them Live"), and "Pompa Fúnebre" ("Funeral Home") are solid tracks assembled solely for the joy of pogoing and drinking ice-cold beer with your friends.

The Hellhounds' side continues with the brazen hardcore, injecting a little humor with some quirky samples and letting the angst guide the speed and cadence of the tracks. "Time to Give a Fuck," "Haymarket Square," and "Side by Side" are old-school punk jams with sing-along choruses and enough melody to keep your head bopping while you circle-pit yourself into a frenzy. On the heartfelt "Caroline," the Hellhounds prove they can slow it down and sweeten things up. All in all, this split disc is a solid bridge for two American punk-rock bands. And that's North and South America.

 
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