Having clear influences from a slew of bands spanning the hardcore genre, hardcore punk quintet Kennedy comes through the woodwork to add their aggression and apathy to the table on their debut release The Guilty Poor. Kennedy knocks on a lot of doors to different genres throughout the album’s 11-track duration, creating a chaotic 35-minute ride.
The Guilty Poor begins with “Stillborn Believer,” going from a spoken introduction to an emotional journey of spiteful lines such as “I hope what breaks my heart breaks yours.” The track toes the line of sludge metal toward the conclusion, and continues to toe that line throughout the rest of the album’s duration.
There’s no doubt that many genres and subgenres are spanned within The Guilty Poor’s duration. The genres are spread so thin it’s often times hard to pinpoint what type of sound the members are looking for. Tracks such as “American Gods” will give listeners the sloppy style of acts such as The Chariot. However, listeners can get the sense of melodic August Burns Red influences in the conclusion of “1984,” while also getting a taste of reflective poetry turned chaotic A Lot Like Birds–style implications in “Empty Womb.”
“Promise Kept” is among the few saving graces on The Guilty Poor. From a melodic standpoint, the track stands out and is worth revisiting. The saddest part about that statement is that the track has no vocals, but obviously works very well without them. The haunting whistling towards the track’s conclusion is enough to leave listeners both intrigued and slightly disturbed. Towards the end of various tracks, beautiful melodic structures come out, which adds the only real sense of cohesion to the album as a whole.
While Kennedy seems to be suffering from an identity crisis, all hope is not lost in The Guilty Poor. With this being the first release from a band incepted from musicians caught in musical purgatory from the remnants of their previous projects, the clash is inevitable. The melodic aspects of the album hit hard and resonate a haunting feeling. However, it just feels as if the members bit off a little more than they could chew. Though the chaotic nature was more than likely intended, it resonates more unorganized and hard to get into than diverse. Kennedy definitely has options within the hardcore punk genre, but they just need to pick a path and roll with it.