Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Focal Point - "Neglected" 7"

Neglected was the first and only extended play released by the Sacramento-area band Focal Point. These five dudes played some rough and ready metallic hardcore that might appeal to fans of Fault, Unconquered, Torn Apart (who had an album released on the same label that did this 7"), Allentown, Pennsylvania's Outcome, and fellow Californians Surface, who may in fact be the best musical comparison to Focal Point that I can think of.

x Life Sentence x Records (the X's were eventually dropped, sadly) in its heyday was a label which became pretty well known for putting out strictly metal-influenced moshcore, and it makes perfect sense to me that Dan was the guy who released this three song 7". Focal Point certainly did not rewrite the book on metallic chugcore, but it doesn't seem like they were trying to do anything that breaks from the mold of the type of shit they played. To their credit, their lyrics reflected an obvious stance on equality, human rights, dedication to ones beliefs, and the fair distribution of justice to people far and wide. The music is mid-paced and energetic, the recording quality here captures a very good fusion of clarity and rawness, yet there are a couple of slightly harsh moments present here. For example, that guitar tone during the intro of "Violated" has never sat well with me, especially once the second guitar joins in. It isn't necessarily something that everyone who listens to this record will be bothered by (or even notice, for that matter), it's just one of those quirky things that I was never able to ignore when that jam played. I can be a little eccentric y'all, sorry. The drummer plays some of those "rap-inspired beats" with loads of accented down stokes and taps on his snare (so the kids can dance along), and he isn't afraid of using his Chinese cymbal, either. This is indeed a good thing.

Moving on, the layout is simple yet effective. The colors really seem to pop on both the front and back cover of this record, and I've always felt that this 7" looked nice and slick when being compared to other debut 7"s from similar-styled bands. It doesn't have a card stock cover, nor is it anything fancy like the Threadbare 7" or the Sarin 7" (it's merely some paper, bro), but that opinion has stuck with me since the day I bought this record, which wasn't long after its release in '96. They kept it simple, but made it look nice.

You should know what you're getting here when I mention that it is one hundred percent 90's metal-inspired hardcore. I'm not sure if I can easily just file this under "g" for generic, since I would say these kids did a better than average job arranging the material on this seven inch. I remember being reminded of Ritual-era Unbroken on occasion when spinning this back in the day, and I'd say that thought still finds its way into my brain in 2017. A few of these songs appeared on their subsequent full length, which was nowhere near as good as this, especially when it comes to the artwork, holy shit. I'd very much recommend that you check out Neglected first before listening to Focal Point's LP, because it's way better.

These songs were recorded by Eric Broyhill at Enharmonik Studios during the latter days of February 1996. Neglected is LSR #6.

1) Neglected
2) Violated
3) Upright

 -here ya go-

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