Thursday, August 4, 2022

Album Review: Powerhouse - Renegades EP

Renegades EP
***and1/2 out of *****

Back in the 1990's the Oakland hardcore band Powerhouse developed a strong following in the Bay Area and beyond by touring and releasing a kickass demo before their biggest album, 1997's No Regrets. After the death of their founding bass player, Ernie Cortez the group disbanded.  Now, 19 years since they played, they are back with a new EP titled Renegades and the energy throughout the short offering is at peak level. 

The opening title track, the aptly titled and written "It's Been a Minute", explains Powerhouse's absence as the groups core of vocalist Cris Hower, guitarist Eddie Medina, drummer Walter Ryan, guitarist Abe Hanna are rounded out by newest addition, bassist  Casey Watson (Old Firm Casuals, Look Back). The opening track puts to bed any doubt about these veterans of the scene being rusty, as it is a complete return to form with chugging build up following a blistering opening. 

Slamming drums, guitar slides/solos and an exhilarating shout along chorus kicks up in the title track which is instantly one of the strongest songs of the bands full career; the pile on singalongs can be envisioned just by hearing the shouted title. The songs about support "Stand By Me" and "Outlast" are both stout, classic hardcore offerings with a rumbling bass and tom intro on the latter.

The stuttering changes and fast drumming/riffs on "Back In the Day" revs up the tension before the band easily slips back into a reprise of the title track in super cool fashion.  The only complaint would be why wasn't this song placed after the title track or better yet, close the EP?  Regardless of placement it is a winner, as is the final offering "The Resistance" which uses a mid-song bass break to propel things into a crushing finale.  

Produced by by Lars Frederiksen (Rancid, Old Firm Casuals) the old school energy and enthusiasm crackles through the speakers as the OBHC band sounds reinvigorated and in top form. Powerhouse are not looking to change things, rather pump up the retro hardcore sounds to their zenith and slam into the pit with might and vigor on their excellent return to form EP, Renegades

On a personal note, I caught Powerhouse on their first trip to NYC as they played on a fantastic bill (on May 19, 1996 with Madball, 25 Ta Life, Indecision, Billyclub Sandwich, and the first Agnostic Front reunion). I chatted with them briefly and bought their demo at the now defunct Wetlands. The band were nice guys and really solid back then, they may be even better now.  This is a good, old school hardcore release.  

Support the outfit, buy the album, and peep some video below:      

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