"If you aren't angry, you aren't paying attention." The unattributable but ubiquitous phrase provides a rallying call for activists, especially those in the punk scene. If I've learned anything from years spent crushed into poorly lit basement shows and scouring xeroxed lyric sheets, anger doesn't amount to much without level-headed passion and a willingness to get dirty. If the Baltimore/Washington, D.C.-based hardcore band Sick Fix only has a couple tapes and seven-inch singles to its name until now, it's because vocalist Michelle Northam was out there, walking the talk.
From Vexed, the band's proper debut album, "Phoenix" is a true story about a pit bull that was set on fire and later died of her wounds. As a pit-bull rescue worker in Baltimore, Northam is passionate about these animals, which are often bred to fight through varying means of neglect and abuse. Barely more than a minute long, "Phoenix" takes no time to bulldoze through pissed-off, buzzing guitars, Northam's menacing howl and a heart-racing D-beat from Chris Moore, who also drums for D.C. grind- and hardcore bands Magrudergrind, Coke Bust and D.O.C.
At 13 songs in 21 minutes, Vexed is a sickeningly heavy hardcore record with just the right amount of slow-motion doom riffage to break up the serious circle-pit swagger.