‘68 – ‘Give One Take One’

By Tom Walsh

It’s been a long four years since ‘68 unleashed sophomore record ‘Two Parts Viper’ to critical acclaim. Since then, there’s been a clamouring as to what Josh Scogin and Nikko Yamada would create next – and so, launched in a chaotic world, is ‘Give One Take One’, another instalment in the duo’s increasingly impressive repertoire.

Album number three of ‘68’s odyssey continues where ‘Two Parts Viper’ left off, swaying between riff-laden post-hardcore tracks to understated, brooding numbers. All the while, there’s an almost blues quality to it, from the choice of melodies to Scogin’s signature meandering vocal style. Put it altogether and it makes for an incredibly compelling record.

Opener ‘The Knife, The Knife, The Knife’ begins with a drawl of a guitar riff as Scogin creeps over every word. It insinuates a desire to break free from the current shackles of modern life as Scogin croons “we’ve got the vaccine so the disease cannot shake it off, so step aside and let the audience just sing along”.

This trait continues through ‘What You Starve’ with a crunching riff, the introduction of a hammond organ, and the kind of staccato riffs that provides the sense of improvisation that can flourish between a two-piece. There are also much grander moments, such as the effects laden ‘Life and Debt’, in which Scogin utters the prescient line of “I never lost faith but maybe I lost hope”.

‘68 carry with them effortless swagger – akin to hardcore contemporaries The Bronx – while Scogin delivers his manifesto with the panache of Refused’s Dennis Lyxzén. The two styles are blended together on the gut-punching ‘Nickels and Diamonds’, which highlights the nuances of ‘68’s sound as it melts into ‘What You Feed’. The latter is a moody refrain filled with minor chords and a distinctly pessimistic melody, laying over Yamada’s intricate drum bars, an excellent light and day between tracks.

They then deliver the utter chaos and thrash of ‘Lovers In Death’, in which Scogin proclaims that “rock and roll never gave me a thing, just the heart, the soul, the mind and the whole things of joie de vivre”, as Yamada crashes his textbook fills. Each passing song pulls you in a different direction – one moment you’re grooving to slimy riffs, while in the next you’re being pummelled by the raw aggression summoned from Scogin’s gut.

Closer ‘The Storm, The Storm, The Storm’, an almost seven-minute epic, is a crushing crescendo of noise, and when it’s over you’re left breathless and exhausted; in the moments of silence that follow, you’re left to evaluate what’s just happened, and there’s an overriding emotion in your mind… “Man, it’s great to have ‘68 back in our lives”.

‘Give One Take One’ is a triumphant return for one of the most innovative and fearless bands in the hardcore genre. It’s been four long years, but once this record passes through your ears, you too will be grateful that this formidable duo have chosen 2021 as the time to re-emerge from the ether.

TOM WALSH

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