Sick Of It All – When The Smoke Clears (Century Media)

Genre: Hardcore

What’s the best way of celebrating 30 years of making street tough, anthemic hardcore? Well, by making some more street tough, anthemic hardcore of course. And releasing a 60-page, stunning photo-book documenting your career to go with it…

Sick Of It All are a global institution, a band who rose from the NYC underground to conquer the world (the hardcore-inclined parts of it, at least). They’re fitter, leaner and more explosive live than many acts half their age. And as the tracks on this triumphant mini-album prove, the boys are still as adept at creating urgent, punchy hardcore as they were back in ’86. Indeed, Fortress, which closes When The Smoke Clears, could go down as one of their best ever songs, up there with Sanctuary, Step Down and Us Vs Them – this is SOIA at their most catchy, most uplifting – and there are few hardcore bands who can match them when they’re on this form.

The politically-charged Doomed Campaign is particularly poignant at the moment – the New Yorkers could always write a great anti-establishment dittie – while Black Venom is SOIA in dark, brutal and unforgiving mode. Another highlight? Blood and Steel, which sees Armand Majidi unleash his trademark whirlwind drumming and Lou Koller rupture his vocal cords while riding a crushing wave of guitars.

Simply put, When The Smoke Clears – and its accompanying book – are essential for long-time fans, one hell of an introduction for the uninitiated… and a fine way to mark three decades of blood, sweat and no tears.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Smokin’