I don't listen to many bands that could be compared to Chain of Strength or Judge, but I caught Miles Between Us by chance when they came around on tour and was instantly won over. They're one of the few hardcore bands left playing this style that are powerful, sincere, and just unique enough not to blend in with the rest.
This full length does a better job of capturing their live energy than their 7" does (and I like the 7"), although some of the sing-alongs are still a little lacking. But there's no complaints about the addition of some vocals by the bassist, who's got a great voice and really helps mix it up. Miles Between Us are a straight edge band, but unlike many bands that wear this belief on their sleeves, they aren't cheesy or spouting off the same lines you've heard over and over again. As someone who isn't sXe, I'm definitely still into their lyrics and message. This is not only because they write about straight edge related topics in a sincere and intelligent way, but also because their lyrics cover plenty of other topics too. One of my favorite lines of this album comes in the re-recorded version of Red Flag Flying: "Icy streets, aching limbs, I'm all tainted mirth and sadistic whims. Living the lie but never in sin, The Great Unloved, holding it all in." I mean come on, that's pretty freakin deep.
The singer Matt definitely has a way with the pen, and his raw, almost screaming vocals give MBU something over most bands in this genre. Musically the band definitely holds it down too. The songs are fairly straight forward, which is to be expected with no-frills hardcore like this. The guitar work and tight drumming keep things just interesting enough though, without ever getting too flashy.
This review is getting a little long, so to summarize what I'm trying to say here, I'd be surprised if "When It Counts" didn't make my list of top 10 albums of 2003. This is the best straight up hardcore CD I've heard in a while. Even if you're not normally a fan of the genre, check these guys out, they're a step above the pack.