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Old North End, 'As O.N.E.'

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Old North End, As O.N.E. - COURTESY
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  • Old North End, As O.N.E.

(Bone Ta Pick Records, CD, digital)

As anyone who's spent time in Burlington's Old North End knows, a distinct sort of neighborhood pride abounds in the blocks between Manhattan Drive and Pearl Street. While not immune to the bougie gentrification afflicting other parts of the Queen City, the ONE still reflects its humble roots. It's fitting, then, that a hardcore band by the name of Old North End would reflect a similar sense of working-class unity on its recently released EP As O.N.E.

Throughout the EP's six tracks, Old North End serve up social and political commentary as blistering as their classic thrashing riffs and breakdowns. Speaking out against the status quo is a time-honored tradition in hardcore punk music and fundamental to the genre. But the band pairs its screaming outrage with rallying cries for togetherness and understanding that temper the rage without turning down the volume.

On the opening title track, lead vocalist Chris Lamothe sets the tone from the first line: "All of us, we're all the same / The same blood runs through our veins." He acknowledges his own past mistakes and attempts at atonement while urging the listener to keep up the fight. In the background, his bandmates expertly plow through shifting time signatures and contrasting feels, as if giving instrumental voice to Lamothe's own inner turmoil.

Old North End have been together for a decade and are practically a Burlington hardcore all-star band. Collectively, the quintet's members have logged time in such noted local acts as 12 Times Over, Blinded by Rage, Indecent Exposure, Slightly Used, Miss Misery and No Son of Mine. They're all veteran players and approach the material with equal parts ferocity and nuance.

Drummer Jon Dapo is the band's backbone, his explosive playing a highlight throughout. Bassist Eric Hodgson is understated and versatile, the perfect complement to Dapo. Jim Tye and Jason McSweeney form a nimble yet powerful two-guitar attack, equally adept at both melodic and mashing riffs that frame Lamothe's visceral howls.

The band claims a variety of classic hardcore punk and metal influences, from Hatebreed and Pantera to Bad Brains. Engineer Urian Hackney, who recorded, mixed and mastered the EP, does exquisite work channeling a vintage hardcore sound that's both punishing and precise.

Despite that throwback feel, at its best As O.N.E. is topical and urgent. EP standout "I Can't Breathe" juxtaposes the breathtaking tragedies of police violence against Black people, California wildfires and the pandemic. And on the closer, "The Cancer," Old North End issue a thundering call for revolution that rings as timely as ever: "We need solutions, we need an answer / We need some relief."

As O.N.E. is available at oneoldnorthend.bandcamp.com. Old North End play this Friday, October 29, at the Howlin' Mouse record store in Rutland with Carnivora, Out of Danvers and Jeopardy.