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108 – 18.61

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108 in 2010 is something of an anachronism. It’s difficult not to think of the band, best known for its affiliation to long-dead Krishna-core, in the context of the mid-’90s. A near-decade of dormancy didn’t help. An unexpected return to the stage in 2005 led to a resurrection on record in 2007. In a parade of reuniting ’90s-era hardcore bands, 108 stood out like it always had: because few bands brought the same level of musical innovation to hardcore. 108 never went for the cheap mosh part or the cliché sing-along. Its music was daring, its message was complex, and its passion was evident on record and in person.

18.61 (Deathwish, Inc., 2010) continues what 108 has honed since 1992. It measures up to anything in the band’s vaunted catalog. The band has never sounded more fully realized and confident than in its current lineup. (The core of Fish, DiCara and Cohen with recently enlisted Mike Justian.) Justian’s percussive flourishes perfectly complement DiCara’s idiosyncratic flair. This new crop of songs flows and feels fully complete.

The band could differentiate itself from current hardcore by further exploring its experimental tendencies. These include the odd pacing of raging opener “God Talk” or the pulsating, off-kilter beat of the title track. What modern hardcore needs is a band to push the boundaries of what is expected and accepted.

108 will probably not impact hardcore in quite the same way it did 15 years ago. Likely no one – band included – expects it to. But what made the band click in 1994 remains in 2010: passionate delivery of a unique interpretation of hardcore. With Fish’s recently announced departure, 108’s next step is anyone’s guess.

— Casey Boland

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