Bitter Grounds - Hollowlands
Ring Of Fire Records / Bad Granola Records / Nextpunk Records
If you were Dutch and into punk-music, there was a lot going on in the early 2000’s. Tons of bands, tons of gigs and tons of fun were an almost weekly guarantee for a weekend full of skanking, pogoing and singing along. With an exception here and there, most bands from that era are long gone though, turning an exciting revival into boredom again. But last year four friends said ‘enough!’, kick-starting their love to perform and record punk-music again, by forming Bitter Grounds.
Featuring ex-members of bands such as Dead Weights, Frightening Fiction, Landmine Hearts, Last To Go and most notable (with two albums for Belgian’s (in)famous hardcore label I-Scream Records) Beans, the four have years of experience in the pocket, and this shows! Not just musically (more on that later, maybe), but also in how they handle their band-business. Because nearly a year after its formation, Bitter Grounds already presents its first, full-length album: “Hollowlands”!
Now with the dual-vocalists, as well as guitarists, of Beans in its ranks, it is no surprise that the musical path of Bitter Grounds is quite similar to its, may I say main, predecessor. Punk, ska and dirty reggae melts both energy and anxiety perfectly together, making “Hollowlands” a highly addictive rollercoaster ride you just keep on listening to! Bands like One Man Army, Operation Ivy, Rancid and Jaya The Cat come to mind while listening to Bitter Grounds. The punk is raw, streetpunk-ish and melodic, while the ska and reggae is indeed dirty, razor sharp and has that solid, deep backbone of the rhythm section.
And although the combination of Ronald and Sander’s dual-vocals has been done on a total of four full albums, and a variety of miscellaneous releases before. As a whole, the package never sounded as good and diverse as with Bitter Grounds. Therefor “Hollowlands” is an impressive first release, firing both punk rock fury through the title-track “Hollowlands”, “Life Of Violence”, “Dead In My Head” and “Trouble”, as well as some crackin’, sometimes laidback, skankers through “Struck Out”, “Human Touch”, “Pressure” and “Breakdown”.
I have to admit, ska-punk, or ska in general, isn’t my favorite genre. But when you bring it with well thought out songs that immediately stick to you and a good dose of heart and passion, you got me. And with “Hollowlands”, Bitter Grounds has me. Pure class from the Hollowlands of The Netherlands!