False-Flags-Hex-Machines-coverAnother day, another good band from Leeds. Seriously, this city is churning out quality bands even more so than usual, which is saying something considering the prolific nature of the Leeds music scene. This time it’s hardcore/hard rock group False Flags with their new mini-album/big-EP; Hexmachine.

Featuring ex-members of defunct bands Red Stars Parade, Whores Whores Whores and Year Of The Man, False Flags have a wealth of experience and influence that really shows on Hexmachine. There’s a distinct sound of maturity in a very polished and well rehearsed performance; indicative of the more seasoned line-up.

Hexmachine has a strong mid 90’s US hardcore vibe, referencing bands like Botch and Unsane, and dabbling in a little stoner and rock ‘n’ roll style riffs. It’s that kind of hardcore/rock cross-over that was big before emo blew up and infected a lot of similar bands and it’s nice to hear it making a return. The attraction to this style is still there for a lot of people and False Flags do it justice.

Listening to Hexmachine is actually a nostalgic experience, and quite enjoyable because of that, but rather than getting excited about False Flags, I spent the entirety of the album trying to pin-point exactly who it was that they sounded like. Hexmachine doesn’t really offer anything original, which isn’t uncommon in this genre, it just made me want to listen to the bands that did, back in the 90’s.

There are some highlights, such as in the sliding end riff in opener ‘Earl Black’ and the stoner rock influenced ending of ‘Phone My Wallet’, but ultimately most songs ride pretty close to the middle of the road. The main determining factor that stops Hexmachine from being really good is a lack of genuine aggression. There’s screaming and yelling and all the right ingredients, but for all that maturity False Flags fail to convey the one thing that makes hardcore, hardcore; being fucking angry. Maybe hardcore really is for the kids.

Despite this, Hexmachine is worth a listen and is better than a lot of newer bands using the hardcore genre label recently. I think this time False Flags let their influences determine their sound too much and while imitation has made Hexmachine a good debut, I would wager that they have more to offer.

(6.5/10 Kane Power)