R.A.M.B.O. “Defy Extinction”

By Dr. Abner Mality

I must have been asleep when Philly hardcore band R.A.M.B.O. had their first heyday from 1999 to 2007 because they don’t really ring a bell with me. Somebody at Relapse remembered, though, and so these street soldiers have re-enlisted and reported to the frontlines once more.

It’s good in a way that I didn’t know much about them because that allowed me to be surprised by their quirky take on the classic NYHC sound. Yes, everything on “Defy Extinction” is deeply rooted in the sounds of AGNOSTIC FRONT, WARZONE, SICK OF IT ALL and the usual suspects, but there are little eccentricities in the songwriting that make R.A.M.B.O. their own beast. I would have never guessed they were rabid environmentalists, but that’s where they’re coming from and the whole album revolves around man’s assault on nature. Good for them, I say, and the cover art is classic.

I’m not going to go over the 17 songs here in depth, but will say that the guys keep their songs clipped and short, which sometimes makes things abrupt but also makes surer that nothing gets overdone or beaten into the ground. The anthemic, chest-thumping sounds of classic NYHC reverberate throughout great tracks like the title track, “Biomass”, “Who Let The Sheepdogs Out?” but reaches its peak on “Love and Science Pt. 1”. There are odd quirks that keep you guessing, like the appearance of female vocals, a more noise rock approach on “Love and Science Pt. 2” and the colder, more robotic sound of “Imperialist Pigs in Space”. And if you couldn’t tell from the song titles, the band’s lyrics are also off the wall and rather absurd.

So R.A.M.B.O. manage to complete the difficult task of being 100% hardcore and yet unique and individualistic at the same time. Mission accomplished, hope we hear more…