Opening with “Taught To Steal,” Regional Justice Center or RJC has this loudspeaker that in muzzled fuzz describes, “Crime and punishment… Crime and punishment” before opening the pits of bodies piled upon bodies. It is chaotic and the cold bars with eyes on the outside written by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Ian Shelton moves as the panopticon for Regional Justice Center.
With lyrics nothing short of powerviolence’s home to a hellscape, Shelton shouts beyond blitzing blast beats and guitar stabs, “Wide eye, open to the world shown. Forming thought of right and wrong…” As the band conjoins to become a twisted monster of assaulting wavelengths, he goes on to describe, “It is yours If you want it. All you have to do is take it.” The message might be a reflective view on the pressure and tension that builds within one’s self, but it becomes a vocalization of strength.
But it only gets worse, when that buzzer goes off and the cell doors that confide the listener lock them further in this torturous cell, “Inhuman Joy” is a sluggishly sculpted march toward the electric chair. The guitars and strings are tuned low to be an early 90’s thrash track but appears more reserved and with less of the ferocity of speed. Instead, the speed comes through the final quarter of the track where the drums illicit an underlying rage that shines like a genetic code.
“Concrete” is another track that comes to mind that has elements of some classic-styled hardcore where the instrumentation is a grind against the pavement instead of just a constant crushing. Actually brilliant for the way that the track can change tempos so frequently and continue to hold the head up to full attention, Regional Justice Center takes Crime and Punishment and puts the audience’s nose in it.
Close to the grindstone, the ripping wheel continues to fly at unspeakable RPM’s as the scales of fate never seem to tip in the audience’s favor. The final track especially, “…And Punishment” is the last look at the lamps of hope before being condemned to a hopeless existence alone and tattered. From riches to rags, from society’s gem to society’s waste, Regional Justice Center takes their last moments of time here to become a percussive salute to the memory of the listener.
The vanquished who loses their sense of direction and inability to survive forthcoming mental storms, Crime and Punishment is the final nail in the judicial coffin. Submitting to the end can never be easy, but Regional Justice Center forces the silence to come to the audience instead of the typical way of escaping those reprieves.