No Panic Records, Flix Records, BandCamp [No Panic])
Artists: Walk the Plank (Facebook, BandCamp), No Fun (Facebook, BandCamp), Such Gold (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr), Harker (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, SoundCloud)
The Great Thieves Escape II is a four-way split from No Panic and Flix Records featuring Walk the Plank, No Fun, Such Gold, and Harker. The EP opens with Walk the Plank's blistering melodic hardcore number "Dying on the Vine." Hailing from Washington DC, the band obviously went to the school of DC hardcore and now are bringing their own twist to the genre. Next is the insanely catchy "Cheesecake" by Germany's No Fun. The power trio's sound is a brilliant mix of sun-drenched California pop with early '90s indie rock, late '70s power pop, garage, and pop punk. The result is a song that is so infectious that it hurts. Such Gold is next with their grinding modern melodic hardcore in "Choosing Cages." Hailing from Rochester, NY the band's sound is that of barely contained fury and rage. The EP closes out with Harker's outstanding anthem "Sometimes Dead is Better." The Brighton, UK trio's sound is that of melodic and catchy anthems that inspire the pumping of fists, the singing along at the top of one's lungs, big smiles, and hope for a better tomorrow.
What's great about splits like The Great Thieves Escape II is that they introduce you to bands and artists you might otherwise have missed and if you're lucky, you find a new favorite band or two in the mix. That happened for me years ago when I discovered One Man Army on a four-way split and completely fell in love (and have been following them and their exploits since). The Great Thieves Escape II has introduced me to two bands that I have immediately fallen for in No Fun and Harker. I can't wait to explore their other releases (which I have already picked up via their BandCamp pages) and anxiously await whatever it is that they do next. These are two bands to watch. The other great thing about The Great Thieves Escape II is that every track was different. Often splits get crammed with a lot of bands that have similar sounds and that is simply not the case here. Even the two melodic hardcore bands, Walk the Plan and Such Gold, have drastically different sounds and that makes for a much more compelling listening experience. Hats off to No Panic and Flix Records for putting together this great release!