Artist: These Streets
Album: Unfinished Business
When last we left These Streets—at the release of the critically acclaimed Out of Time—we saw a band combining depressive and self-deprecating lyrical undertones with explosive examples of heavy hardcore and beatdown. With some of the lyrics and themes seen on Out of Time, it was tough to say if we’d even hear from These Streets again—as much of what was said and played hinted at no sense of tomorrow and no future, just a stark, cold finality. Out of Time was the sort of release that came from a dark place that many people never really make it out of.
As fate would have it though, we—or I—were sorely mistaken. These metallic Modesto marauders are back with an album that is exactly as the name implies—Unfinished Business. Picking up where the hefty and depressive Out of Time left off, These Streets resume their sonic onslaught with the diverse and devastating sound of a band that conquered darkness and emerged from the light at the end of the tunnel stronger and more powerful. Unfinished Business is an infinitely more varied album than the already diverse Out of Time, combining introspection with intense aggression and splashes of crossover to create a ruthless and relentless salvo of sinister Californian heaviness.
Unfinished Business captures the dissonant aggression and sharp edge of its predecessor but wields it with more energy and intent. These Streets take the same ferocious percussion and driving fretwork and put more of themselves into every chug and two-step, forcing it deep into the listener’s head. Studio percussionist and SPITE songwriter Cody Fuentes is the magnificently beating heart of the band’s dynamic, from the first explosive patterns of the album’s introductory (and titular) track to the rousing and raunchy “Bite the Hand” or “Out of Time.” Fuentes’ work isn’t overtly technical, but rather straightforward and punchy, using power to beat its way through the listener’s skull and right into the auditory cortex. This is characteristic of the ultra-aggressive nature of These Streets; but where the band were once melancholy and depressive, they’re now ferocious to the core. This is as true of Fuentes’ drumming as it is of the band’s deep, chunky bass grooves. Fluid and funky at points, yet snappy and bouncy at others, the bass’ dynamism adds another layer of intensity to Unfinished Business. During heavier, more hectic songs like “Suffer” or “Unfinished Business,” It works with Fuentes to assault the listener, while during the moments of sparse melody like those in “No Way Out” sees it working more with guitarist Walid Gad. Gad’s immense ability is what gives much of These Streets their dynamic musical backbone. Where the duo dominate with slam-tinted and severe beatdown influence on the EP’s heavier numbers, they include headstrong riffwork and even atmosphere on others—giving listeners a release that they can two-step, swing fists or vibe out to, all in one listen.
Where Gad does much to add a distinct and different atmosphere to Unfinished Business, a vast majority of the monstrous shift in attitude comes from elsewhere. While some of These Streets’ lyrical emphasis is still placed on introspection and a hazy plague cast by depressive thoughts, much of it is defined by an aggression turned outwards. Frontman Cameron Grabowski takes the negativity brewed and distilled on Out of Time and loads it in an all new weapon—Unfinished Business—and points the loaded barrel at the listener. Grabowski’s vocal energy and lyrical aggression are a whole new beast, and where “Wasting Away” and “Bite the Hand” are excellent examples of this, the best might come from the very first sentence Grabowski belts on “Unfinished Business.”
Let the bridges I burn light the way.
This line and the unbridled fury that propels it from Grabowski’s throat sets the tone for the entirety of the album that follows. A gruff, grisly, dark and disastrous style serves as Grabowski’s mainstay, but moments like the cleanly sung portions (that show These Streets’ crossover hardcore appeal) during the tracks towards the back half of Unfinished Business serve as a further testament to Grabowski’s diversity. While this style isn’t necessarily new to the band (“The Note” from Out of Time as a counterpoint), the manner in which Grabowski belts triumphantly over the raunchy and riff-driven instrumentation sounds as if the listener might be suddenly listening to a new band—not These Streets at all.
A lot of this article has been spent comparing Unfinished Business to its predecessor, Out of Time. In part this is merely logical, as Unfinished Business does feel like a continuation and triumphant overcoming of the depressive nature on Out of Time. However, even in its own right, Unfinished Business is a magnificent album and a marvelous display of murderous, multifaceted and diverse aggression. With riffs enough to stare down a Pantera record and ruthless, venue-leveling breakdowns aplenty, These Streets return to the heavy music scene with an intelligent and emotionally different release that sees them working past the demons abundant in their past to create something crushing and creative both.
For Fans Of: World of Pain, Lionheart, No Zodiac, Bruise, Wicked World
By: Connor Welsh