2011 saw Brisbane hardcore quintet Driven Fear once again work with Sam Johnson at Three Phase Studios in Melbourne to record their album titled “Contender”. This 14 track full length serves up hard-hitting, message-based punk / hardcore presented in a 6 panel digipak with a 12 page booklet. For fans of Raised Fist, Final Fight, and Comeback Kid. facebook.com/drivenfear
500 x CDs

Idle and the Bear [USA]
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Driven Fear, a hardcore punk band from Queensland, Australia, has made quite the name for themselves in the past couple of years. The five boys make hard-hitting, extremely fun songs that I enjoy quite a bit. This record, released on 11/11/11, is 14 songs of pure, undiluted hardcore punk. This was released on Pee Records out of Marden! RIYL Raised Fist, Final Fight, Comeback Kid, Down To Nothing. I’m going to make one thing very clear first- I am not traditionally a hardcore person. Unless we’re talking pre-nineties hardcore, I just so rarely get into it. HOWEVER- this record was a different case. From the first track, I found myself getting really into it. The energy is badass, and you just want to move to it! It’s extremely raw, fast, catchy, and it pumps you up with the first note. The first thing I said to Idle about Driven Fear is “At some point in our lives, we’re going to go to see Driven Fear live. Australia’s really fucking far, but I bet it’ll be a good time.” You can just tell they’re great performers. Nic Lalot is a great drummer. Can you even imagine how tired he gets after these songs? This is not your typical hardcore drummer- not only is it faster than hell, there’s some real refined technique to that. One of my favorite songs to show that off is “March 29th.” “Ten Years” has this awesome guitar riff in it that’s super addictive. I can’t give any name recognition to this one, because there are two guitarists… So we’ll just go with yay for both of them! “The Hunt” is probably my favorite song on the album. The intro is creepy. In a good way. If I was directing a horror movie, I would play this song at the beginning. I hope that’s a compliment- I meant it that way. It changes pretty fast into a lighter tone, though. It’s just a really great instrumental track. Everything ties together awesomely and the rhythms and melodies just work around each other perfectly. Oh, and the bass in “The Contender” wins. It just beats everything else. Bass solos are the best. Every single track is awesome. I demand that you listen to these guys

Black Munk
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Brisbane punk/hardcore group Driven Fear released their debut album ‘Contender’ on 11/11/11. The album includes guest vocals from past, current, and future Australian hardcore stars Scott McFadyen (Toe To Toe), Joel Birch (The Amity Affliction), and Zach Duncalfe (Promises). Their fans know just how talented they are, and now it is time for the rest of the world to hear. “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Those words were made famous by Peter Finch in the movie ‘Network’ back in 1976. That is what starts off the album at the beginning of ‘Sense To The Senseless’. It leaves the listener with a haunting feeling that a speech from a movie over 35years old could not be more relevant about society today. All ears are listening from that moment onwards. But if your attention was not taken hold of from track one, then the second track ‘Growth’ will blow you away. Turn the volume up loud and prepare yourself for the explosion of energy and anger that Driven Fear so easily put in their music. The slow groove of title track ‘Contender’, the stripped back vocal onslaught that is titled ‘In Care Of…’, and with the heart-wrenching closer ‘Scattered To The Winds’, it becomes evident that Driven Fear have taken their music from respectable local band to world-class hardcore group. With influences that range from Black Flag to Comeback Kid, Driven Fear have the knowledge, the skill, and now the songs to take their careers to heights few reach. ‘Contender’ is one of the best and most respectable punk/hardcore releases Australia has produced and one of the best from anywhere in the world that 2011 has heard. Driven Fear have exceeded all expectations on their debut album. Australian hardcore is in safe hands. Rating: 10/10

DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
All the way back in 2009 when I first starting writing for News Hit, the first review that I ever wrote for the website was Damn The Empire’s …With Trends Like These, a record produced by Adelaide-based indie Pee Records. Three years later when I am writing what is most likely the final music review that will ever be uploaded onto Newshit, it is only fitting that it too is a Pee Records release. In the modern music industry, the advent of pro-tools, auto-tune and numerous other digital aids means that it is possible to fake a lot of things. It is possible to fake a strong singing voice. It is possible to fake a perfectly pitched guitar solo. The one thing that it is still impossible to fake, however, is passion. And if there is one thing that Driven Fear have in spades, it is passion. While their last EP Society’s Finest? dripped with a sense of depressed sarcasm bordering on nihilism, their debut album finds the band in a different place altogether; their world is still burning, but change is possible if we have the courage to do so. Opening with the furious rallying call of “Sense to the Senseless”, this is a record that never lets up on the intensity from start to finish. Blending the hardcore attack of records like Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent by Refused with a lyrical desperation reminiscent of Ballads From The Revolution by Good Riddance, this is music which is both invigorating and timely. Instrumentally, Driven Fear have improved significantly since their last release. While Society’s Finest? was a breath taking displaying in pulverising hardcore, Contender features both a more precise punk rock attack and a greater focus upon dynamics and melody. Ironically, the fact that the group now spend less time simply playing as hard as possible only serves to make the release as a whole all the more intense; the slight musical reprieves offered in tracks like “Into Submission” and “The Hunt” give the listener a moment to catch their breath, before diving headfirst back into a raging punk track like “Pages” and “Like The Plague”. Top honours however must go to “March 29th”, a song which was already featured on Driven Fear’s split EP with Mouthful of Air. While heavy handed in its approach, the track features a great usage of dynamic variation, as well as a surprisingly melodic and memorable chorus. With Contender, Driven Fear have definitely delivered on the promise offered by their last two EPs. While the group are still able to conjure up the same sorts of blistering hardcore featured prominently on Society’s Finest?, their musical growth and increasing utilisation of dynamics have only made their sound stronger and more ferocious. And hey, I’m not even usually that much of a fan of hardcore, so it’s got to be good doesn’t it? Verdict: Driven Fear return with a record that is more sincere, more passionate and more intense than ever before.
Rating: 8/10 – Review by: Matthew Woodward

DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Another band who hasn’t lost the concept of delivering a full package as the final product. Great artwork and packaging on this one, and the tunes are equally as good. For fans of fast straight up hardcore, you’ll be filing this one right next to Toe To Toe’s ‘Consolidated’ if you file by quality. Production is perfect, sounds just as good blasted as it does in the background, not that it’ll be background music for long. The band’s previous releases were all quality, but this one leaves them for dead, from start to finish they tick all the right boxes and leave you heading straight for the repeat button. They’ve delivered one of the best hardcore albums of the year, not just from local acts either, this one is right up there with what’s being released world-wide. Do check it out.

Kill Your Stereo
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
If the opening monologue on Brisbane band Driven Fear’s new full length says anything, it’s that you can expect some pretty weighty messages to be found in the songs to follow. Topping off their well received EP releases, ‘Contender’ allows the group to spread their wings a little more and really show people what they can do. The band can safely pride themselves on steering clear of many of the hardcore clichés as opening track Sense To The Senseless burst out of the gate with intensity and anger, venting social frustrations backed by a fast paced beat but slightly restrained guitars. The power and focus are given to the vocals whilst the guitars provide melody in the chorus, this all slows down near the songs end as the vibe changes and you realise that Driven Fear are not just another run of the mill hardcore band. Second track Growth is one of the shorter tracks on the album but also one of the more mature, take the irony of the title any way you want, but for its brief appearance Growth is the perfect sample of the different ideas Driven Fear can bring to the genre. There are still some standard, and a slightly un-interesting moments, such as Wolf Tickets, but they are made up for by songs like All Rivers, in which the guitars jump from post-hardcore style playing to straight up punk rock. The title track is an anthem of sorts, one that you can picture a sweaty crowd screaming along to inside some dive hole venue, as Contender is another highlight. The Hunt is a further shining moment, an instrumental track that offers a break from the albums intensity before revving back up for the powerful Pages. The record ends on some moments that will be the final nail in your coffin of Driven Fear fandom. In Care Of…begins sounding like a single mic room recording capturing raw passion which leads into the machine gun attack of Ten Years and ends on the catchy hooks of Scattered To The Winds which sums up ‘Contender’ perfectly. Summary: Mature Australian hardcore at its best. Conclusion: These days hardcore music needs bands like Driven Fear and albums like ‘Contender’ as they offer something new, in balance, with the elements of the genre that people know and love. Hopefully the band continue to push the more off kilter aspects of their sound in the future as it will be interesting to see where that could take them.
Rating: 80

Some Will Never Know [UK]
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Driven Fear are from Brisbane, Australia and play fast paced hardcore that reminds me of equal parts Abhinanda and Raised Fist. I hear they are often compared to Comeback Kid too, but I’ve never heard CK so I can’t verify that. Although I’ve not heard them before, the first thing that immediately leaps out at me from the presentation of the CD is the mature approach they’ve adopted. No singalong pics and college fonts, this superbly presented digipack CD has a stunning sepia feel to it with minimal photography and no goofball photos of band members mucking about. Musically they haven’t locked themselves into one mode either, like many bands tend to do. They are able to unleash crunch driven Refused style anthems, driving guitar parts, and passionate vocals that are somewhere between Inside Out and The Hope Conspiracy. The opening track ‘Sense To The Senseless’ is an absolute stormer, but taking a good four and a half minutes to assert itself and set the agenda. Title track ‘Contender’ has a nod to the DC sound and the instrumental track ‘The Hunt’ could even be a Sensefield song. But they don’t stray far from their well structured but frantic sounding songwriting formula for long, bringing it back round with more energetic hardcore on tracks such as the 30 second rager ‘Like The Plague.
Rating: 75/100 – Review by: McKee

OX Fanzine #100 [Germany]
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
For reference, in the promo text called Comeback Kid, it will come out very well if you want to get an idea of Driven Fear. I had to think because of the scratchy vocals and most of the high tempo first song but to think Strike Anywhere. So the bottom line of modern hardcore with lots of pressure, a few mosh parts and anthemic choruses and over again, gratifyingly little emotionalism, so that Driven Fear do not sound like another Modern Life Is War clone. The whole thing rumbles pretty tight and breathless from the pits and is refined with gang parts of other Australian colleagues. The [lyrical] content offered is what you would expect from this kind of music too, fate, despair, and then of course at the end of hope. The only drawback is the almost 40 minutes of playing time, which then act but very tiring, perfect would have been 10 to 15 minutes less.
Rating: 8/10 – Review by: Matin Nawabi

PunkRockTheory.com [Belgium]
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Just like Affiance, Australia’s Driven Fear start their album with the “I’m mad as hell” speech from the movie Network before unleashing some excellent hardcore tuneage. On “Contender” – the band’s first full-length – they keep things interesting throughout the entire duration by messing around with different rhythms, heavy yet melodic riffage and raw vocals that are often supported by a slew of gang vocals. They’ve got a whole lot of energy going on and bring back memories of bands like Comeback Kid and Raised Fist whereas more moody tracks like “The Hunter” take us deep into Defeater territory. To top it all off, things sound great yet still raw enough and they’ve got more passion than a young couple getting it on for the first time. If you want to hear an impressive hardcore debut, “Contender” is definitely what its title makes it out to be.
Score: 7.5 out of 10 – Review by: Thomas

Smorgasboader #9
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
“All rivers lead back to the ocean. Helps me realise where I’m going…” South Brisbane boys Driven Fear have put together one powerful release on their latest offering, Contender. With its tough title, and the fact the Scotty Mac of Sydney legends Toe To Toe does a guest appearance, it’s as you would expect it to be – tough as nails. Heartfelt, honest hardcore. A cool digipak with 12-page booklet makes the physical product well worth the buy, but you can also get some instant gratification with a digital download and save a few dollars. Rating: 3/5

BLUNT Issue #106
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Well this is a relief. For a minute there it seemed like Australian hardcore, for the most part, had been overrun with cute haircuts and poorly played metal, but thanks to bands like Driven Fear the genre’s original mission statement will continue to be well represtented in our fair land. To some a record like Contender is nothing more than a 14 track cliché; however, those that like to hear their tales of social injustice and political shortcomings preached over a muted riff or rapid-fire drum beat are going to get a real kick out of what these Queenslanders have accomplished with their latest effort. Comparisons with Comeback Kid are going to be inevitable, and that’s OK because, lets face it, balls-out delivery and a bit of grit have always been held in a higher regard around these parts anyway.
Rating: 3/5 – Review by: Timothy Hawthorne

Chucking A Mosh
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Driven Fear are definitely not newcomers to the Brisbane music scene by any stretch. After forming back in 2004 the band are now seasoned veterans of the live circuit and have even managed to get themselves on a couple of international tours. They have also aligned themselves with the always dominant Pee Records back in the early days and have since churned out a couple of short releases. Up until this point the band were still yet to produce a full length album, then this year Contender was unleashed upon our ears, and holy shit, we’re moshing. The first track of this album, Sense to the Senseless, leads in with a slow build up which races into a track fully deserving of the wait. Once the drums come screaming in it doesn’t take long before you’re in the thick of it and a smile fast appears on your face as you realise this album is going to be something special. Keeping their riffs more simplified while pushing for a greater song structure is a huge highlight throughout this album, and the changes in tempo this creates leaves tracks to flow seamlessly into each other. For those of you saying to yourself, ‘This is all well and good but when can I get my mosh on?’, if tracks like ‘Pages’ don’t get you rocking out with a sweet two step then charging the stage to get in on the gang vocals then you should re evaluate how you go about moshing. The song writing is only enhanced by the work the band has done in the studio tracking this album. I know we have raved about him before, but Sam Johnson having his hands all over this album means you know it’s going to sounds amazing. The fast, yet clear sound that is produced on this recording is setting a new benchmark for this style of band. It only took me one listen though of this album before I was raving about it to anyone that would listen to me. With the fast hardcore pace behind the feel of the music leading towards your more traditional beatdown sections this is an amazing first full length for Driven Fear to come out with. If you are into your fast hardcore and you haven’t got a copy of this record pick up a copy now and thank me later. Rating: 26/28 days

Rest Assured
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Brisbane’s Driven Fear drop their first full length after a string of splits and EP releases. Hard to describe the sound of this band as it varies so much from track to track on all 14 songs. At times I think I can hear Defeater influences shining through, then at other times I hear Raised Fist. Nevertheless it’s this mix of style that makes this a really interesting record as you don’t know what’s coming next. Every song is really well structured and retains some form of melody and an undeniably intense hardcore vibe to it. Well thought out lyrics and a passionate vocal delivery round out the awesome production sound. This band really deserves more attention as this is a great release.

PEE #48
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
Brisbane’s Driven Fear has already graced us with two mind blowing releases. The bands’ debut ‘Society’s Finest’ EP was brutal, raw and full of integrity. The ‘Pale Fate’ split EP with Mouthful of Air, was amazing and easily the standout band on the EP, not that I mean to pick teams here… A band as relentless and intent on being consistent and cementing its heels in Aussie hardcore should in no way be ignored or taken for granted, and this debut full length only confirms how intent and intimidating this band is. ‘Contender’ features 14 full length tracks and each is as confronting and brutal as the next. Opening with ‘Sense to the Senseless’ featuring a confronting and assertive sample, it progressively builds into break neck straight up hardcore punk. Already it’s obvious all elements necessary to make a memorable release are bottled in this bands’ sound and this release. The production is perfect and the CD sounds impeccable whilst still retaining a raw edge that is a must for any release emulating this style of music. Track 2 ‘Growth’ has a subtle beginning, but frontman Tim blisters your ears within seconds with intense guttural growls. Unlike many other hardcore bands out there, the emotion and integrity is evident in Tim’s vocals, not monotone in any way or monotonous. Track 3 ‘Wolf Tickets’ takes you back a few years with a sound reminiscent of old school hardcore; driving rhythms, upbeat tempo and subtle but impressive melodies. Each and every track on ‘Contender’ is as confronting and compelling as the other. It’s not until track 8 ‘Pages’ that a fleeting idea of respite from this hardcore onslaught could be forthcoming… but it isn’t. ‘Pages’ for me is the standout track on the CD. Lyrically ‘Contender’ is equally intimidating and confronting. Lyrics aren’t your run-of-the-mill hate filled tirade… These tracks are provoking and mature in comparison. There is so much to like and love about this release; the packaging is amazing and looks great and these 14 tracks make one incredibly solid and unforgettable release. This is a must have for any hardcore fan. By far one of the most impressive and solid local releases I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Rating: 100 – Review by: John MEANtime

PEE #48
DRIVEN FEAR – Contender
I personally don’t put a whole lot of stock in what other people compare a particular band to. So when I see anyone and everyone comparing Driven Fear to Comeback Kid & Raised Fist, I let out an exaggerated ‘sigh’. I mean how many hardcore bands these days are compared to CK? They’re the easy, trendy band to compare one to. But honestly, those comparisons are spot-on for once. They aren’t a CK knock-off band but the style and sound is extremely similar in a good way. The likening to Raised Fist doesn’t hit as squarely but doesn’t miss either. One last band I think can help to describe the structure and tempo of this album is, Defeater. When you hear the evolution in songwriting that Defeater went through over their past few releases, you can hear a similar growth in Driven Fear’s new album from their earlier material. ‘Contender’ is solid from start to finish. Rarely do I find full albums that I can play throughout without getting bored, these days, but this band has managed to put one out. Do you like modern hardcore, such as those bands aforementioned? Do you like your hardcore bands to offer more song structures than just breakdowns and screaming? Do you prefer your bands to write meaningful, socio-political lyrics? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions… go buy this record. It’s that good!
Rating: 92 – Review by: JM

11 Nov 2011

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CAT #: PCD050
Recorded by: Sam Johnson @ Three Phase Studios
Mastered by: Alan Douches @ West West Side
Artwork by: Pete Pee

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