Barcode - _Hardcore_
(Diehard/Hardboiled, 2001)
by: Adam Lineker (8 out of 10)
It would seem that Barcode are self-consciously trying to be as hardcore as possible. Rhyming phrases all about attitude and drinking, proudly sporting Freebase [see elsewhere in this issue's review section] T-shirts and frequently using the word "hardcore", to the extent that it is the title of this very album. You have to give them points for enthusiasm. Metallic and aggressive, Barcode have a slight punkish edge but a lot more guts. Also, they have a strong sense for penning accessible songs. Opener "Supreme" is short and catchy; automatically you get the feeling that _Hardcore_ will not be a chore to get into. The songs progress fluidly and without awkwardness, effectively fluctuating in tempo and giving the songs a palpable sense of structure and organisation. On their own the vocal lines are nothing groundbreaking, but they fit perfectly with the music and are performed with passion that complements the attitude and aggressive spirit. The riffage on _Hardcore_ is tinged with thrash, and some stylish touches in the lead echo strongly of Slayer. This is an enjoyable record. Admittedly it doesn't sound as if it's going to change the face of the world, but Barcode fly the flag for hardcore with pride and this element shines through the music. With the spirit of this record being so prominent, Barcode sound like they could be a lot of fun in the live environment. The momentum is more or less kept up throughout _Hardcore_, yet the band rarely sound like they are recycling riffs. It seems to drop ever so slightly when lengthy songs "Ride Like Hell" and "Representin'" arrive back-to-back at the albums midpoint, but otherwise the songs are strong with hooks in abundance. As you get into the record it becomes apparent that the mix is both strong and effective. Each instrument is matched together and of equal prominence so the sound is accessible but never weak or flaccid as it is commendably performed. Lyrically and conceptually _Hardcore_ can range from worn-out unoriginality to the downright hilarious -- check out "VCRHCHO", Barcode's tribute to porn queen Jenna Jameson. Yet this only adds to the overall entertainment. _Hardcore_ is one of the more enjoyable, err... "hardcore" experiences out there and you can bet Barcode are proud of it.

(article published 1/9/2002)

4/19/2005 J Smit 7.5 Barcode - Showdown
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