Since bum-rushing the music scene back in 2002, Los Angeles natives The Bronx have been kicking ass and taking names with their fierce, palpitating live shows and ever-evolving sound. Starting off as a modern-day Black Flag, time has seen The Bronx slow down their tempos while increasing their grit, and producing a sound that can only be described as "dirty" hard rock with firmly rooted foundations in punk.
That all changed when The Bronx threw out their instruments in 2009 and traded their jeans and T-shirts for mariachi uniforms. Rechristening themselves Mariachi El Bronx, they released two albums of surprisingly good mariachi in the past several years, making believers out of doubters and proving to the world that talent and ambition know no genre lines.
Five years after their last rock album, The Bronx have come out swinging with their fourth self-titled album of fist-clenching, spit-flecked rock 'n' roll, that lands somewhere between punk, hard rock and a knife to the ribs.
Opening with the aggressive, groove-heavy "The Unholy Hand," The Bronx proves they haven't lost any of the legendary vitriol that got them a record deal after only 12 live shows. Lyrically, vocalist Matt Caughthran pulls no punches, asking "Are you the Antichrist or the Holy Ghost?/ Do you wanna die or just come real close?" Caughthran sported a surprisingly smooth voice during their mariachi years, but damn, does it feel good to hear him scream again.
"Under The Rabbit," "Too Many Devils" and "Ribcage" continue the fast-paced dynamics of the first song, while "Torches" and "Life Less Ordinary" find the band exploring slightly new sonic horizons. Sporting a slow, slightly dreamy intro, "Torches" quickly shifts into crashing, anthemic guitars and Caughthran's plaintive wails, which would be conquering modern rock radio in a perfect world. "Life Less Ordinary," on the other hand, takes a minimalist approach and falls on its face. While the band has pulled off slower songs before, this effort offers nothing new and tends to meander.
While not the return to their hardcore roots many fans would've hoped for, IV is a worthy entry into their canon and a welcome return to form.