When the latest 7-inch release from Howitzer showed up at the New Times office a month or so ago, it was an odd surprise. For starters, most bands don't have enough cojones to send vinyl in the mail. So there's all types of swagger attached to a band that does. Secondly, the artwork for Turncoat, the four-song rocker that they sent over, looks like something out of the American Revolution gone anarcho, and it's both hilarious and utterly ridiculous at the same time. After listening to Turncoat a few times, it's obvious where their confidence (and sense of humor) comes from. It's based on their skill as musicians with a storied past. Having moved here from New England in the '90s, their music is draped in that Boston-style hardcore scene of the '80s and '90s when bands ground so hard that even regional punk bands around those parts were better than most national acts. And you can hear that on the album's first song, "Turncoat", a hard, bombastic opening shot aimed at everyone and no one in particular. It's full of adrenaline, angst, and venom — but it's undeniably catchy, with heavy drum licks and guitar chords that sound like chainsaws. The next cut, "Folded American Flag," goes more toward the conspiracy theory rhetoric from their last LP, Police State, but it's still well-composed and the lyrics clearly sung. Flip the record over, and you get hit with another jewel, "Life on the Streets," which is all surging punk meets metal meets hardcore in a local stew. The slower, more melodic "I Just Don't Give a Damn" sounds like pure barroom drinking music at its best. What's clear is that three lads in Howitzer know how to combine their favorite genres on wax. But they've got a lot more than four songs in their repertoire, and you'll have to catch them live to get a better taste.
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