Low and behold, AFI members, Davey Havok and Jade Puget have once again given birth to another musical side-project with an awkwardly spelled name. Quite the contrast from their electronic side-project Blaqk Audio, XTRMST is their take on straight edge hardcore. The project debuted early in 2014 in form of a 4-song EP, which has been expanded on in this full length containing those 4 songs plus 8 more.
On these 12 songs, the guitars are loud, the drumming is frantically fast and Davey is consistently yelling throughout the album. The lyrics take a militant straight edge stance naturally condemning alcohol and drug use. The band appears to find its stride on the main single, “Conformist” most effectively reaching a chaotic, but catchy hardcore anthem. Unfortunately much of the album isn’t quite as memorable with tracks like “Swallow Your God” and “Humanity” sounding rather repetitive amongst the rest.
What is refreshing on this album is Jade allowing himself to his work his fretting fingers on “Dirty Nails” and “Merciless” in ways he rarely has previously and the abrupt rhythmic time shifts. With the values of Ian MacKaye’s lyrics from Minor Threat and finding lineage musically with hardcore of the late-90s, XTRMST’s debut is a fun album to thrash to when cranked up, though a tad uneven as a whole.