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Various Artists, One H.E.L.L. of a Compilation 

Album Review

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(Get Stoked! Records, Vinyl, Cassette, digital download)

Music can be a powerful aid when dealing with tragedy. In 2007, Gordon Riker and Kelly Wallace were killed in separate bicycle accidents in Boston. Shortly after, close friends in the Beantown punk and hardcore scene created a nonprofit organization, H.E.L.L. (Helping Everyone Live Longer). The group’s primary mission is to promote bike safety through the distribution of free helmets. To raise awareness, they’ve put out a new record, One H.E.L.L. of a Compilation, presented by Burlington’s Get Stoked! Records. The comp, a tribute to Riker and Wallace, is an eclectic journey across myriad genres of underground music.

Twenty-eight bands appear on the double-vinyl and limited-edition-cassette versions of the comp. The LP’s impressive packaging includes black and Grimace-purple vinyl. An accompanying digital compilation holds 42 additional tracks, including six by Vermont bands. Highlights include a rare song by metal-core heavy hitters Converge, unreleased material from Krishna hardcore pioneers 108 and a solo acoustic song from singer Brian Marquis of Therefore I Am. Although essentially a hardcore compilation, the record has broad appeal, from folk-punk and indie rock, to grind, pop and experimental. There’s even a DJ track.

On the physical copy, Vermont’s Hunger offer “Punishment,” an old-school hardcore ode to physical pain. That band features guitarist Justin Gonyea, cofounder of Get Stoked! Records, and one of the architects of the compilation; he was also friends with Gordon Riker. (Full disclosure: Gonyea works for Seven Days.) The digital version includes Burlington’s Trapper Keeper with their instant classic, “It’s Only 1,930 Miles to Austin,” as well as Vermont’s No Submission with their youth-crew offering “I Still Believe,” and a song each by Unrestrained and Bullshit Tradition.

Some songs speak specifically to the loss of Riker and Wallace, while other bands sing of their own losses. Mourning is dreadful, but good songs can evoke positive memories, and that’s what this comp aims to do.

Like any extensive compilation, this one has tracks you’d rather skip. But the message here is what counts. Collectively, the bands serve up a wallop of raw emotion, the result of which can be summed up in Marquis’ acoustic song “’84 Rookie Card.” “Home is where the heart is,” he sings, “even when it is underground.”

One H.E.L.L. of a Compilation will be available at the Big Heavy World birthday show at Maglianero Café in Burlington on Sunday, April 1. The lineup includes local comp contributors Hunger and Trapper Keeper, along with Rough Francis, Union Gun of ’62, Disconnect and Problem Child.

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