“Oh no, is this a straight edge band?” I thought to myself like an asshole after receiving this link for the new album by Straightline. A quick google image search revealed a guy in Suicidal Tendencies hat and RKL shirt. Phew. No way that dude’s sober, unless temporarily ordered by the court. Sobriety, by the way, is cool as hell (I mean, not for me, but for lots of other people). The straight edge trope of hardcore just has too much baggage and endless unintentional buffoonery for me to get into a new band with that schtick. Which Straightline DO NOT have, to be clear. Lots of great classic straight edge hardcore out there that I’m glad exists, some of which is ironically great drinking music. Try putting on Turning Point or Chain of Strength next time you knock a few back and you can thank me later, if you remember. It’s for the best that culture didn’t mix those two things though, punch dancing would be absolute mayhem if everyone was hammered.
Straightline are from Munich, Germany and have been together in one iteration or another since the late 90s. They definitely borrow their sound from metallic skate punk of that decade, but also bring in elements of crossover thrash and screamo. The album starts out very strong with massive pounding drums (the entire production on this record is HUGE) and chugga-chugga guitars on “Global Frustration”, which is perhaps called that because of how hard it is to remember how to play. Straightline songs have LOTS of parts. The second song “Virus” is even better, and reminds me of when metal guys on YouTube cover old Nintendo songs. If you’re a nerd of a certain age, you know these are some of the greatest songs ever created, so I mean it as a compliment. Seriously, maybe no song in the history of music has consistently delivered me goosebumps on each listen more than the moon theme from Duck Tales for the NES. Late 80s Japanese video game music composition is the fourth genre of music that Straightline master here.
The album takes an interesting turn on the third track with “Undone”, which is a massively catchy tune that could hang with the best stuff on Leche Con Carne by NUFAN. It’s my favorite song on the album, and the one I go back to the most. Straightline just absolutely crush each of these genres so well that these poppier songs really help to break up the record effectively, rather than sound as if they were awkwardly tacked on. A couple other album highlights are “Shame on You”, and the straight up thrash of “Stood for Something Else”. It’s pretty impressive to have both “Undone” and “Stood for Something Else” on the same record, because they’re both such great and incredibly different songs.
Straightline have toured as an opening act for Ten Foot Pole, Big Wig, and Satanic Surfers, which makes sense stylistically. Honestly though, they’re better than all of those bands. They also remind me a little bit of label mates One Hidden Frame, especially in song structure and technical ability. Even though I’m not personally a fan of screamo or metal solos, Straightline use and master them well here. I saw some live footage, and they were all wearing shorts on stage (which I am definitely PRO) and jumping in unison. My rule of thumb with bands that scream is that they must be wearing shorts, otherwise it’s lame. Black pants with loops and extra belts and shit? Forget about it, no screaming for you. They also appear to be politically sound, from at least an environmental standpoint, with song titles like “Global Citizens” and “Earth Defenders”, which is cool. Protecting the Earth rules. The other planets fucking suck, from what we know of them.
If any of this has piqued your musical interest, I should mention that Straightline offer their LP on its own, or as a merch bundle with a skateboard deck.