Old Lines- No Child Left Behind

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 11, 2014

I’ve always felt fortunate to live fairly close to the Baltimore music scene, as the city has been responsible for some truly amazing bands over the years. This has been true for just about every genre but there have been quite a few hardcore acts from the city that have gained some national recognition, such as Ruiner and Pulling Teeth. The reason I mention these two in particular is because Old Lines has guitarist Mitch Roemer in its ranks, and he was a member of both these bands. After spending a few years touring locally and gaining exposure, Old Lines has signed with No Sleep Records and released their debut full length No Child Left Behind. It’s twenty two and a half minutes of angry, aggressive hardcore that covers a slew of social and political issues, and it’s a strong debut from another Baltimore act that should turn heads nationwide.

There are plenty of familiar elements on display throughout No Child Left Behind but the instrumentalists are able to shake things up enough and provide some strong hooks on many of the songs. Hardcore remains at the core of what Old Lines writes, but I hear hints of crust punk and even a little grind when the band decides to throw in some extremely fast paced blasting sections into their material. The eleven tracks fly by fairly quickly, but there is enough variation between them to grab your attention, and most listeners should find that there are quite a few moments that they will want to return to. From beginning to end this is an album that keeps the energy level at a high, only slowing down on occasion to refocus and build a darker atmosphere. But even with the sheer amount of aggression on display, this is still a fairly accessible release thanks to some cleaner production values that make the guitar leads easy to pick out and that should help Old Lines to gain a fan base with this effort.

Vocalist Matt Taylor keeps pace with the instrumentals for the entire album, not letting up from his abrasive screaming for a single second. As mentioned earlier, Old Lines tackles a wide variety of social and political issues in their music and the intensity of the vocals really adds that extra weight to each word, demanding that you really pay attention to everything the group has to say. There are a few tracks where some backing screaming is added into the mix, but for the most part Taylor steals the spotlight and keeps the intensity going. The vocals on No Child Left Behind are also enhanced by the way the album was recorded, as rather than burying them further back in the mix they’re given a decent amount of separation from the instrumentals.

Some bands release their debut album fairly quickly, but Old Lines has taken their time and generated a good deal of attention around Baltimore and the surrounding area first. It’s clear from No Child Left Behind that the longer incubation period has worked to their advantage, as not a minute of the twenty two the album runs for is wasted and there are specific riffs still stuck in my head that have kept me coming back. If you live around the local area chances are you may already be familiar with this group and their intense hardcore, but now it’s time for everyone else to find out.


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