Freebase - _My Life, My Rules_
(Diehard/Hardboiled, 2001)
by: Adam Lineker (8.5 out of 10)
The title speaks for itself and Freebase live up to it in a fine fashion; any band that can pen a song about a rapist called "Cunt Hunter" and still manage to pull it off deserve some modicum of praise. The drums seem a little muffled, but the guitars are powerful and harsh as they bang out riffs that are strong and effective alongside vocals that roar and growl with a powerful hardcore style. You could seriously slam to this band. Lyrically, it is aggressive and controversial but positive; songs like "The Cull" and "SOS" are a call to arms to do something about modern day injustices of society. Freebase proclaim what they believe and what they feel in one loud voice. These songs are well-written and interesting; like Barcode, these guys write accessible and enjoyable hardcore. The mix is such that vocals are very prominent and the instrumental mix is very centred on the guitars, with the bass being a constant low rumble. The drums come across a little muffled and quiet but not so they sound weak -- they are still somewhat tight. Admittedly the backing vocals sound like shouting, which is exactly the point. Freebase's particular brand of hardcore really is a delight for those sick of the sound of nu-metal and modern day rock. "Stay Away From Me" satisfyingly sticks two fingers in the face of every shoe-gazing Kurt Cobain wannabe and "Nothing to Regret" stands tall as Freebase bang out stomping riffage with aplomb that puts Slipknot and Soulfly in the shade. Other tracks boast many thrash-tinged riff progressions and fills, especially in the Lombardo-esque beats of "Respect 2002", an aggressive dismissal of bigotry and trends. The great thing about Freebase is the way it all comes across so personal and honest; raw hardcore performed from the heart. It's a mark of a good band when they can take riffs that are nothing special in essence and turn them into something more. "Weakness of Thought" is crushing and doomy, feeling barely restrained. "Blood for Blood" is aggressive and thrashy. "My Life, My Rules" shows variety in mood and styling although it all remains very hardcore. These touches give a sense of meaning to the construed riffs; subject and style is well put together. Freebase occasionally add a little something else to characterise their songs with mixed results; while the stereo imaging at the end of "Suicide Note" falls flat, the "Silence of the Lambs" sampling in "Cunt Hunter" gives an edge to an already unsettling song. Overall, this is very well done, enjoyable hardcore, and judging by the banter at the beginning and end, Freebase are having a good time doing it.

(article published 1/9/2002)


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