Downset-Maintain album review. FFO: Legendary driving Hardcore with that killer O.G. rap style.


Downset-Maintain album review. FFO: Legendary driving Hardcore with that killer O.G. rap style. This Friday these Rapcore/Raprock kings drop album number six and I can absolutely confirm it sits perfectly amongst their best work like their brilliant first three records. What do you expect: dense, abrasive riffs, thunderous rhythm section and exhilarating vocal gold be it screaming or rapping hard as hell; oh yes, IT IS ALL HERE IN TRUCKLOADS. 

Maintain is their first album since 2014's raging One Blood, but whilst this album has a slightly different lineup (with ex-First Blood/Merauder drumming machine Bobby Blood on board and the return of founding member and guitarist Roy Lozano(who I interviewed and will pop up on the blog soonish) to bring the complete nasty guitar wizardry that this band is known for) it is the lineup the band needs to deliver a raging classic album in 2022!.  These 12 tracks are really fantastic and not only is this a great nostalgia trip for us oldheads, but it sounds modern, but not overproduced. Roy being back not only meant the chunky groove and heaviness were back in spades, but he also co-produced this with Nick Jett of Terror. And this record(despite some strange reviews stating the opposite) is very dynamic, energetic and aggressive as hell. The intense balance that makes this band classic really shines more than any previous album as the riffs are always upfront as much as the rigorous vocals that demand your attention, but hip-hop/rap has a robust foundation of drums and bass. Everything sounds amped and full of momentum. This is an album bursting at the seams to be played live. 

The title track jumps out from the gate from the first instant and sounds like Cypress Hill or Public Enemy crossed with Suicidal or Beowulf or Slayer. A wicked and confident start to the album. Indeed this album seems like a mission to take your soul and snap your neck. Blackest of Days sounds like something straight off the Judgement Night soundtrack with its clever mix of acidic guitar work mixed with a gripping militant rap style that is catchy and gritty. This follows through with New Respect; a meaty and groovy (and metal as hell) classic that sounds like the track you are hanging for when you go to see Downset live. Then you get the lovely sledgehammer(and one of many album highlights) of Won't Forget with its high tempo, cool harmonious chorus and yet again filthy, sharp riffs.
Fifth track Wreck It won't let you relax yet with first-rate funky and angry glory. This is wild and also has that classic moshpit craziness we all love Body Count for. Wow-what an album so far. Then On Lock (Only the Defest) destroys us with a slight drop in tempo, but the driving groove is so damn solid and clever. Again this is a testament to great songwriting and also celebrates what L.A. always does so well; that weighty aggression with that almost funk-like energy. Then we get knocked out with the mighty The Place to Be, which is not only the first single/video from this release but a real wild statement of intent for this album with excellent lyrics/message; which Downset have been so consistent since day one. Your Power is a rager also, the chorus is hooky as hell and now whilst we are at track eight, there is zero sense of boredom with this album and the drive on this new album seems so powerful. Positive Mind follows this and is a damn cool mantra-like track that lodges hard in the brain. This tune also uses that killer quiet-to-loud principle that is a cool foundation of my fave Cypress Hill tracks. Hear Me Now is my fave track of the album and is as much rap as it is shearing hardcore. I worshipped the intelligent twists and turns all utterly driven by ripping riffs and gnarly vocals. This track demands moshpit violence, without any fucking doubt!. (And how killer is the ending! It has some cool peak-era Helmet vibes!). 

Deeper steers us toward the end of the album and is like hardcore rap crossed with Blood for Blood. Plus it has some amazing vocals from Rey, that cover so many genres from hardcore to almost funk to industrial metal. Ready for This closes down this killer release and man what a way to go out. It was spectacular how they slowed it down (like on many of the classic first album releases) to a plodding pace to build up tension and the earthquake of sonic violence fades out; this shows the maturity of the band who know how to deliver both a killer album and tracks that lodge hard in your skull. This is a huge release, one of the year's best so far and one that demands repeat playbacks.

In a few days, I will drop an awesome extended interview with Roy from the band; it's as passionate and genuine as you expect from this band!.