[Albums] Integrity – Den of iniquity

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It is said that the Lone Wolf and Cub movies starring a ronin seeking revenge for the murder of his clan with his son perverted the chanbara (saber movies) by introducing bloody scenes of violence. This title can also be applied to Integrity for having perverted hardcore and introduced an esoteric imagery to the genre as well as having pushed the boundaries by creating an eerie atmosphere. When Integrity started in 1988 the Cleveland hardcore scene was already burgeoning but the punk scene had already solidified the reputation of the city as being home to some wild bands and shows. With their imagery, Integrity solidified a style now known as holy terror.

Den of inequity offers the opportunity for old and news fans to revisit the early days of the band when the guitarist Aaron Melnick was helping frontman Dwid Helion forge the sound of the band. The compilation, originally published in 1993, reissued by Magic Bullet Recording is not only an occasion to revisit older songs but also to add thirteen new ones, including some surprisingly excellent live versions, to it. Some of the songs are from hard to find compilations like Dark empire strikes back compilation showcasing Cleveland hardcore bands, splits with bands such as Kids of Widney High (a choir of mentally disabled children whose album have been put out by Mike Patton‘s Ipecac label), Hatebreed of Dwid Helion‘s own Psywarfare (a power electronic project).

Even if the band described themselves as Cro-Mags meets Slayer, Integrity has always had some excellent song writing. Dwid Helion is the voice and the face of the band but Integrity would be nothing without the riffs and the talent of Aaron Melnick. All of the tracks featured here are real songs, with stories within the music, and not just accumulations of riffs put together with some screaming on top. It’s hard to believe that Evacuate is a track off a compilation when it’s such a memorable song. Eighteen was also a bonus track on the original Den of inequity compilation and both studio and demo version are both very strong. The kind of material any band would be falling over themselves to put out as a single but only end up on odd albums.

Despite the variable song quality featured here, all of the material is excellent and should be part of any Integrity fans collection. The physical booklet also offers commentary for every song and the album features some gorgeous new artwork from Dwid Helion. To sum it up, it’s an all around must have who likes old school and current dark hardcore.

Den of inequity is available on CD via Magic Bullet Recording and on streaming via Bandcamp

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