R.A.M.B.O. – Defy Extinction (Relapse Records)

It’s been 17 years since R.A.M.B.O. last released an album.

And 15 years since the hardcore outfit called time on their first run.

Since then, singer Tony Croasdale (aka Tony Pointless) has gained a slew of science degrees (he is now a respected ornithologist), guitarist Andrew Wheeler has become a successful cinematographer and bassist Bull Gervasi has made his living installing solar panels.

But hardcore never dies, right?

There are still battles to be fought.

R.A.M.B.O. seem to think so, anyway…

The resurrection of R.A.M.B.O.

Defy Extinction sees the Philadelphia act alive, kicking and 100% relevant for 2022, with – the band admit – 17 years more life experience to draw from.

Taking aim at anti-science idealogues, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and climate change deniers (among others), this remarkable album will remind the world why R.A.M.B.O. were revered across global HC scenes in the 90s and noughties.

A blazing cocktail of crossover, crust and melodic punk, it’s an instantly addictive call to arms, and a record that balances hardcore’s ferocity with an intelligence few modern HC acts can match.

The messages are loud and clear.

The anthemic title track and Judas Goat rail against the destruction of wildlife habitats, while Imperialist Pigs In Space targets… well check out the title.

However, Pointless’ lyrics are made all the more potent by their accompanying soundtrack: Defy Extinction, while certainly rooted in European d-beat and American hardcore, is a rich, sonically diverse opus.

River Of Birds sets the tone, blending Tragedy’s suss with old school gang chants, Who Let The Sheepdogs Out? picks up the pace with an explosion of pit-ready hardcore and The End Of Nye brings some vicious thrash riffs into play.

But when you arrive at Imperialist Pigs… R.A.M.B.O.’s music plunges into a place as cold as the cosmic void.

And the tension you’ll feel across tracks such as Blizzard Brigade seeps right into the skin.

Yes, Defy Extinction tones down the savage Scandicore elements that were embedded into 2005’s Bring It.

And R.A.M.B.O.’s melodic palette has been extended this time out.

But after 17 years away, the Philly crew sound as angry, energised and defiant as ever.

It’s one hell of a comeback.