Hardcore Heavyweights: Supreme Commander vs. Nervous Impulse

Whose album was the best DCHC release of 2012? I’m glad you asked, because today two titans of the hardcore and punk rock communities are squaring off to answer that question. Let’s meet the competitors.
Weighing in at 10 tracks, with a length of 20 minutes and 53 seconds, is Supreme Commander’s album “Paper Tigers.”
Weighing in at 8 songs, with a length of 12 minutes and 47 seconds, is a self-titled release by Nervous Impulse.
The community has high expectations for both bands, and both bands have high expectations for themselves. The guys in Nervous Impulse and Supreme Commander have been active in the scene for a combined 270 years or so, and played in bands such as Latchkey, The Goons, Wake up Cold, Porch Mob and many others.  Supreme Commander has been a steady presence in the scene for the better part of a decade, while Nervous Impulse has only been around for a couple of years.
We are not here to talk about where these bands have come from, though. This Heavyweight Hardcore Championship is about what’s happening now.
Both bands come out swinging to start their records, as any good band should.
Supreme Commander starts with “More Than You Can Chew.”  I absolutely love the intro to this song and the way it bursts into an up-tempo hardcore jam with whiplash changes and melodic riffage throughout. Fast, catchy, musically advanced, and disgustingly heavy – it’s a classic hardcore jam.
True to form, Nervous Impulse also comes out looking for a first-round knockout with “Wasted Time.”
From the first notes on the track  – a slick, swaggering, hyperactive, Rancid-type bass figure and Serge Goons’ siren-wail of a voice – you know that Nervous Impulse is an act that is not to be taken lightly.
This is hardcore punk played frenetically, but with extreme skill.
“Wasted Time” hits with a constant and ever-mutating barrage of cool guitar leads and bass solos – this is the type of song where the bassist plays about 17 notes a second and they all sound good. “Wasted Time” is a song cool enough to make you suspect that Nervous Impulse will be your new favorite band.
A lesser band than Supreme Commander would be felled by “Wasted Time,” but the boys in the ‘Mander know their way around their fretboards too and are too strong and well-conditioned to fall in the first round.
The fight rages on. Neither warrior gives an inch, though Supreme Commander seems to slowly gain an edge through tough, anthemic cuts such as “Blackhawk,” “Another Day Without You” and massive songs like “The Message,” which I can never get out of my head.
Supreme Commander’s “The Woodshed” should be a hit on some cool radio station somewhere (I’m not sure if those even still exist; the point is that this song is extremely catchy and singalong-worthy).
“Paper Tigers” is a collection of songs that would be a clear winner in almost any head-to-head competition of songwriting prowess and instrumental dexterity, but it is not the clear winner when matched up against what Nervous Impulse has to offer.
With Supreme Commander ahead on points, Nervous Impulse comes back – looking battered and crazed, yet triumphant – in the final rounds and shows you what the quartet’s made of, lashing out like a mad scientist on tracks like “Build a Bomb or Shut Up,” and “Maintenance Fix.”
“Maintenance Fix” is one of the angriest, most intense songs I’ve ever heard; it’s simultaneously pummeling, catchy, unique, and musically and vocally skillful, but best of all is that the world it conjures is utterly bleak.
The last song on the eight-track Nervous Impulse album, “Livin Right Blues,” is the best song on either album. It’s one of those classic punk rock songs powerful enough to change the way you see the world.
Q: What kind of score-keeper calls a bout like this a draw? A: One who is friends with the guys in the bands.
These records capture a scene on a major upswing right now. They immortalize lives on wax, bottling approximately 270 years of energy, effort, wisdom and skill. There are a lot of really big things happening right now in the hardcore scene and those of us living in this region are lucky to have so much talent around us. These are bands that can match up with anybody. It’s a blessing to be around it and to be a part of it with my own supergroup, Copstabber (though we were ineligible for this particular competition for violating any and all policies).
It’s 2012 and there is a lot going on. Get in the ring.

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