Thursday, August 7, 2014


Part 3 of my journey pricing our stacks of used 7-inch records. In my walk through our wax museum of recorded sound, sometimes I find things I need to share – so here we are. This is “From the Crates.”

BAND: Holdstrong
A1 Illumination
A2 Butterknife
B1 Taken
B2 All Hope Abandoned
LABEL: Pin Drop Records

Holden, Massachusetts. Worcester County. 1990’s.
See hills, rivers, trees. See white-painted wood arranged into churches. See single story, mute-colored houses folded into deadbrush and thin river birch along Route 122A. See neoclassical architecture asserting the sophistication of all 15,000 who inhabit the town.
Hear hardcore music.
Holdstrong emerged from Holden in ‘93, releasing their 7-inch, Gaining Ground (PDR01) as the flagship of their “then vanity-but soon to be legit” record label, Pin Drop Records. Orbiting around drummer, Matt Myrdal and guitarist Bill Cole, the band shuffled through numerous lineup changes whilst scratching themselves hard into the grain of the local hardcore circuit. After years of local touring, the band settled into a somewhat stable lineup including vocalist Chris Berthiaume and bassist Tim Carlson with whom they released their first full-length CD, Nothing In Return (PDR04). Tack on a 2nd guitarist, a few more releases, and two fairly successful national tours and you’ve just about covered the bulk of Holdstrong’s career which came to a close around 2000.

Said to have been founded by Holdstrong guitarist, Bill Cole, Pin Drop records proudly displayed their motto “Hardcore since day one” on their spartan, no-frills webpage. The label currently has their original website (now inactive) preserved in a fan-made online archive where you can click around and see what was going on circa 2000. Pin Drop’s roster included, Holdstrong, In Reach, Die My Will, Fragment, Grimlock, Polyglot, Fall From Grace, and Crosscurrent.

Holdstrong’s sound developed after soaking up a decades worth of Massachusetts hardcore. That being said, Gaining Ground sounds nuanced - partly due to Holden’s location. Seated almost in the middle of the state, Worcester county is often folded in (geographically and culturally) with Western Massachusetts. This explains why in Gaining Ground you hear a tug of war between the knife-edge violence of Boston’s scene cut with the slightly less aggro Western Massachusetts sound (Deep Wound etc). I am a particular fan of the springy bass lines that weave throughout the record, specifically in “Taken.”
Berthiaume’s vocals attest to the hardcore style but the double-bass-heavy drums and deep, sinister edge to the guitar distortion lean more towards the metalcore sound that hit stride less than a decade later.

It’s a good come in the shop and check it out!

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