Birds In Row – Collected

French hardcore band Birds In Row was recently signed to Deathwish Inc, and while they work on their debut album, Vitriol Records has compiled the band?s first two outputs into one package, Collected. Combining the 7?? Rise of the Phoenix and Cottbus EP affords listeners a chance to not only become familiar with Birds In Row, but also track the progression the band have made over a year?s time. The material still holds up well since their respective releases, though an odd track listing makes Collected feel more stilted and jumpy than a compilation should be.

Rise of the Phoenix came out in 2009 and Cottbus followed a year later, and for whatever reason, Collected switches the order of the two. The band had a year to develop in-between the releases, so by default, the first half is the strongest portion of the album. With the Collbus tunes, Birds In Row shows a steadier hand on how to make their sound abrasive without sacrificing melody. The Rise of the Phoenix material has small inklings of that, but it?s mostly a series of bruisers that eschew breakdowns for furious riff action.

A lone guitar echoing out notes sets up the first two minutes of ?Among The Ashes?; not exactly an explosive way to begin Collected. That changes once the rest of the band wakes up and gets down to punchy hardcore. ?Among The Ashes? is an anomaly among the rest of the conventional songs like ?Colossus? and ?Ace Of Fools.? Collected unleashes more sonic bile as it goes on, with the Rise of the Phoenix tracks being much more vicious than the Cottbus tunes. An unreleased song, ?Phoenix,? rounds out the compilation with an explosion of heavy-hitting rhythms and untuneful barking.

The outro to the Cottbus EP is the most unconventional song included in this compilation. Instead of the usual display of harsh realities, the band enters a dreamy state of retrospection. Sparked by a mellow acoustic guitar, the outro is an underwhelming end to that EP. Because of the track listing, this outro is right in the middle of the album, sapping the momentum built up on the previous six songs. Most people will skip past it, and those that do won?t be missing much.

While the ordering of the songs is questionable, the material is far from it. These songs have dynamics that reach beyond typical hardcore fare, and it?s always appreciated when a band re-releases material that went out of print or was not grasped onto the first time around. The band made some major leaps between Rise of the Phoenix and Cottbus, which will also hopefully be the case with their debut album. Collected is a robust accumulation of all the band?s important work to date.

Rating: 7/10

Label: Vitriol Records

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By Dan Marsicano

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