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No Bragging Rights – The Concrete Flower

No Bragging Rights
The Concrete Flower
by Julius “Dreadheart” Mikkelä at 12 February 2015, 9:03 AM

NO BRAGGING RIGHTS is a California, USA-based Melodic Hardcore, or Melocore, band that’s been around since 1999 and has released 5 albums including this their fifth effort, “The Concrete Flower”. Now even though I’m a die-hard Metalhead, I actually listen to a fair amount of Punk and Melodic Hardcore music in the likes of SEX PISTOLS, BAD RELIGION, DEAD KENNEDYS and RISE AGAINST, so even though I’m going in blind and with a Heavy Metal mindset into NO BRAGGING RIGHTS I’m not inexperienced with where they come from nor what they might be out to achieve.

Quickly into the album I realize that, while the expected basics are there like the Melodic sections and instrumental work and the actually quite exceptional clean vocals by Mike Perez that manages to avoid sounding too clean and instead pulls off a dirtier and more impactful kind of clean vocal performance (not too different from Tim McIlrath of RISE AGAINST, which is a strong positive for me), this is a much more aggressive and arguably heavier form of Melodic Hardcore than I’m used to: The harsh vocals are much more frequent, the songs are generally higher paced, the riffs carry weight behind them and the attitude incorporated into their music is less of a heartbroken fool and more of a wounded animal – all good things in my ear that actually makes “The Concrete Flower” sound and feel a bit Metal in a kind of Thrashy way!

However as great as that sounds and as much potential I believe exists in that combination, it seems NO BRAGGING RIGHTS lacks two things to make that potential reality: First off, the songwriting is a little underwhelming and very predictable to the point where I actually found myself annoyed by it, and really the only songs that stuck with me was the title track “The Concrete Flower” which felt very RISE AGAINST-esque and the heartfelt closing track “Damage/Recover”, with the rest just being fine or passable to varying degrees.

And the second thing is an unwillingness to really let loose and destroy, which may initially seem like a strange criticism but hear me out: NO BRAGGING RIGHTS has a lot of dirty, honest and passionate aggression fused into their songs that builds up over time as you listen to it. But unlike some of their peers that can channel this into politically, socially or emotionally loaded lyrics or like heavier Metal bands that just unleashes that aggression and passion on you through their music, NO BRAGGING RIGHTS just builds up but never releases that tension which I felt eventually just led to frustration and me pausing the album for a while to spin some proper Thrash Metal to get that built-up frustration out of my system – but maybe that was just my Metal addiction kicking in!

But while this may sound like I came out from “The Concrete Flower” with a bad taste in my mouth, I certainly didn’t: The great sound and solid musicianship throughout the album holds it up with ease in my ears. It may be in an awkward place for me as a veteran Metalhead who expects more carnage and destruction from my aggression-filled music, and I’d probably be a little hesitant to recommend it to my fellow Metalheads, but if you’re into Hardcore Punk or Melodic Hardcore and want to experience a more aggressive form of it then NO BRAGGING RIGHTS“The Concrete Flower” might just be what you’re looking for – good job, lads!

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Strength Through Struggle
2. The Concrete Flower
3.Outdated
4. Right Minded
5. Bottoms Up
6. Fallen Masters
7. Attention
8. Brave Hearts
9. Downhearted
10. Damage/Recover
Lineup:
Mike Perez - Vocals
Christian Lee - Guitar
Martin Alcedo - Drums
Daniel Garrow - Guitar
Ryan Warrell – Bass
Record Label: Pure Noise Records
     


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Edited 30 January 2023
 

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