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Sick of It All
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Hard-core hardcore fans might cringe at New York quartet Sick of It All’s union with Eastwest Records (the label’s just a scruffy front for Time Warner), but they needn’t balk. Scratch the Surface is genuine NYHC: brutal, indignant, and—with only one song cracking the three-minute mark—abbreviated. Vocalist Lou Koller has perfected his desperate snarl—making great lines like “Selfishness lust in a quagmire of human filth” all the more enjoyable—but austere guitar work from the copiously tattooed Pete Koller is what distinguishes SOIA, stuttering through “Insurrection” and floating above the serenely bludgeoning “Return to Reality.” Now that one of the richest media syndicates on the planet is signing SOIA’s royalty checks, the band may no longer be “in the underground,” as Koller vehemently insists on “Step Down.” But Scratch the Surface sure sounds like it.