Cover Photo: Lucas Harrison Rupnik
The Last Mile and II are the product of a long journey through the myriad of obstacles, deviations and general curveballs that exist within the realm of underground bands. That is all the time I am going to spend on that because today is primarily focussed on the current incarnation of the Montreal three-piece.
II is the current and most recent release of The Last Mile after rebranding and morphing into their current form. The two-track 7″ is the foundation from which the band are to grow and is at its core, a Punk-Rock release spanning various eras. The opening ‘Acetylene’ maintains the tempo-adjusted grit of the early-Hardcore period but bolstered with the melodic infusions of the mid-to-late ’80s. On ‘Acetylene’ the band channel the early Melodic Hardcore of the likes of Dag Nasty and much of what would later become Skate Punk. The band equally straddle the intensity of Hardcore with its latter melodic compadres and the result is as near to true level as can be.
‘Acetylene’ allows its Hardcore to have free reign in its verses and in its grooved intro and yet hints at a more melodic approach with an eerie Post-Hardcore lead line. Despite the eventual anthemic proto-Skate Punk, the band’s vintage heavier-set nature is something fitting and symbiotically merges with this need to soar toward the ’90s. The latter verses of ‘Acetylene’ further catapult to this end, in an eventual closing feature from one Patty O’ Lantern of Brutal Youth after his vocal warm-up backing the hoarse tones of Chris Snelgrove. The Last Mile’s ability to balance and contrast their various influences into a unified front is key to their repertoire.
The vocal contrasts of ‘Acetylene’ are flipped in ‘Out Of The Woods’. Snelgrove’s tones are exuberant but imbued with a natural Hardcore snarl. However, in track two, his efforts are more centred. Rounded are the serrated Hardcore edges of ‘Acetylene’ as ‘Out Of The Woods’ takes the band into the slick Melodic Hardcore of the early 2000s and 2010s.
This was an age where the likes of Comeback Kid, Rise Against, Strike Anywhere and No Trigger were pushing forth on the inherent rage of the genre but tempering and rounding down certain elements as to accentuate the key, foundational and naturally procreating grit. ‘Out Of The Woods’ carries traces of the serrated grit of its predecessor and juxtaposes the Dag Nasty-esque lines with such but focusses more on urgent side of Hardcore. Track two teases with stripped-back breakdowns acting as short refrains from the now comparatively more entrenched proto-Skate Punk on offer.
‘Out Of The Woods’ restrains the lingering bite of The Last Mile and instead gives way to the urgency on the other wing of Hardcore legacy. Much as Patty O’ Lantern contrasted Shelgrove in ‘Acetylene’, former Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade does so this time around. Wade’s signature and idiosyncratic vocal tones are still just as crisp, shrill and sharp in their delivery. The Last Mile push towards the unrelenting tempo classic Hardcore planted amongst Punk-Rock and along with Wade’s vocals, toast the past along with the fellow seminal sounds of the Hardcore-era Wade himself was thankfully a part of.
The 7″ in which these tracks inhabit was designed entirely to show where the band are now. Prospectively, you could say that the melodic contrast is perhaps too stark. You could say that the Melodic Hardcore on offer is too rounded in ‘Out Of The Woods’ and that the track lacks the snarling bite of ‘Acetylene’. These are opinions that although not outlandish, do indeed comprise the few parts of a “clutch” that is itself primarily straws. II is a release capturing a seminal time in the history of the Punk-Rock stylistic and exists as such shamelessly.
This is another steadfast release by a band that isn’t letting 2020 ruin everything. II is out now via Pavones Records.
The Last Mile will release a full-length in 2021.