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Album review: Maximum RNR- "The Black and White Years"

Album review: Maximum RNR- "The Black and White Years"


Toronto's Maximum RNR formed at a strange time. Too late for the first and second waves of punk rock in the 1970's and the 1980's, and yet had more in common musically and intellectually with these two waves than with the punk music being released when they did form as a band, around the turn of the century. With their latest compilation of recorded material from their early years, "The Black and White Years," Maximum RNR sound like they just walked out of 1981, and that's a good thing.

Pro-Tools and new music production processes are a wonderful thing, but have that tendency to make things sound a little too perfect, as though the soul has been sapped out of the music. Maximum RNR have found that balance where the music doesn't sound too thrashy (read, like a trainwreck), and hasn't been superproduced to perfection. The album sounds like how the band sounds live- loud, boisterous, and speedy.This back-to-basics approach to music production is refreshing, and proves that the band are as authentic as the music they play. Besides, Pro-Tools wouldn't fit with a band that might has well have defined DIY, if waves of punk bands before them hadn't already done so.

Authenticity is certainly the name of the game for Maximum RNR. They have the speed and aggression of 70's punk rock, but with more of the melody and musical complexity of 80's punk rock. It's no longer about making noise for the sake of making people angry, but more about having something to say and choosing to do so through music.

The opening track, "Switchblade," sounds like it would belong on any 80's punk band album. They sound much like a band that grew up on a heavy diet of early Canadian punk bands such as DOA and SNFU. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you might not be able to tell that this is a band that's only about twelve years old.

"The Black and White Years" doesn't slow down for a second. Each song is distinct (which sometimes wasn't the case with early punk, where every track kind of sounded like the same three chords over and over. Because it was.), and each one combines speed and aggression into a beautiful blend of punk rock and hardcore.

If you haven't been able to listen to any Maximum RNR in the past, and would like to start, "The Black and White Years" is a perfect introduction. Containing the band's entire recorded discography from 2002 to 2012, with six new tracks, it's an awesome way to be introduced to the band, and maybe to spark an interest in 1980's punk rock as well.