Long before Drive Like Jehu, Rocket from the Crypt, The Locust or The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, there was Battalion of Saints. Founded in San Diego in 1978, the band rose up in the shadow of the Los Angeles punk scene, delivering a raw, homegrown style of hardcore that made them underground legends. In their first incarnation, the band lasted seven years, having broken up in 1985 after the release of their sole album, Second Coming . But Battalion of Saints reformed a decade later, and since then has undergone lineup change after lineup change, delivering their hardcore assault for a while as Battalion of Saints A.D. before once again hitting the brakes in 2012.
You can't keep good punks down, however, and as of this year, the Saints have reformed, helmed by original vocalist George Anthony. They've hit the ground running with a new 7-inch EP, comprising three songs and six and a half minutes. Across those six minutes and change, the band comes out of the gates strong, restating their sense of purpose with a crunchy and crusty hardcore punk sound that's fierce enough to have been played by a much younger band, but delivered with the kind of efficient expertise that only veterans can pull off.
The three tracks on the EP are all pretty similar in approach: loud guitars, breakneck tempos and a ferocious bark from Anthony, all in less than two and a half minutes a pop. It's to Battalion of Saints' credit that they're able to get as much out of that simple set up as they do. The 95-second first track "Darkness" sets the pace with an almost too-fast, careening hardcore gallop that comes to a halt just as it seems like the whole thing's going to fall apart. "Nightmare" is a more groove-heavy standout that sets their hardcore menace against a surf-rock rhythm, and "Bombs" is a highly explosive (pun intended) and endlessly thrilling closer.
There's nothing all that new about what Battalion of Saints do on their new self-titled EP. It's an extension of what they've been up to for more than 35 years, but it feels a little bit louder and a little bit faster. As hardcore goes, it does absolutely everything right, proving that old punks can stay relevant long after the scene has moved on.