The Month In Hardcore: June 2021
You hear that distant rumble, right?
It’s coming back.
It took a long time, but it’s coming back.
It’s happening again.
Hardcore shows have been happening. They’ve even been happening during the pandemic. But now they’re about to really happen.
Dead Heat’s new album is great. Ekulu’s new album is great. There are lots of reasons to be excited about hardcore right now, but the real big news in the genre — the only news in the genre — is that the cleansing ritual of the hardcore show is about to return, at full strength.
It’s so beautiful.
We made it. Good job, everyone.
Action News – “Failed State”
I don’t know who plays what in the new Philly band Action News. (Great locally specific band name.) But Jesus Piece frontman/Nothing bassist Aaron Heard is in the band, and if that guy is in your band, then you are basically guaranteed to have a ripshit live show. The first two Action News songs are both fast, feral, frantic destroyers, and “Failed State” makes its three-minute onslaught feel practically operatic. [From Failed State EP, self-released, out 7/1.]
Community Gun – “Braindead”
The Seattle/Denver band Community Gun came together during the pandemic with the apparent intention of returning Negative Approach-style straight-ahead fundamentalist hardcore punk to its ugly and mysterious and dangerous roots. The band recorded their demo on an iPhone, and I would like to know which app has the filter that makes a phone recording sound like it was captured on a Fisher Price cassette recorder buried at the bottom of a dumpster. The minute-long “Braindead” hits like a nightmare about being attacked by a pack of rabid prairie dogs. [From Target Practice demo, out now on Convulse Records.]
Control System – “Burning Money For Warmth”
If you’re a band writing songs about the death rattle of a corrupt capitalist system, it probably helps to be from Tampa. Control System are from Tampa, and their basement-chaos take on metallic hardcore is so driven and instinctive that it sounds like it’s about to rip itself to pieces. It’s awfully helpful that they’ve archived their lyrics on their Bandcamp page, since I don’t know if I could’ve picked out a great line like “a failed state governed by a fallen species” on my own. [From Burning Money For Warmth EP, self-released, out now.]
DARE – “Different Method”
The best straight-edge bands are the straight-edge bands willing to scream warlike affirmations about being straight-edge bands. Orange County’s DARE are a perfect example: “Proud! To be! Straight-edge!” “Different Method” is a revved-up mosh anthem in the proud West Coast tradition of Strife, and it makes me want to smack my own White Claw can out of my hand. I won’t do that, but this song at least makes me consider it for a split-second. [From Against All Odds, out 8/20 on Revelation Records.]
Ekulu – “Pick Your Fight”
Ekulu’s long-awaited LP is heavy on the sort of ’90s groove-stomp New York hardcore that often crossed over into full-on metal territory. That shit rules, and Ekulu are great at it. Anytime a band makes me think of Prong, I feel pretty good about the world. But for my money, the best song on the record is the shortest, fastest, punkiest song, and “Pick Your Fight” is that. When that breakdown kicks in, I want to grab a helicopter out of the sky and throw it into a lake. [From Unscrew My Head, out now on Cash Only Records.]
Filth Is Eternal – “On The Rake”
A month ago, the Seattle band formerly known as Fucked And Bound showed up with a whole new name and a whole new sound. On the standalone single “ZED,” Filth Is Eternal sounded like they were going for hissing, scraping guttural ’90s noise-rock, and I was into it. But here, Filth Is Eternal prove that they’re fully capable of banging out a minute-long D-beat ripper, and I’m into that, too. At this point, this band seems like it could go anywhere, or at least anywhere that’s dark and angry and intense. (If the rest of their album turns out to be smiley-face Euro-trance, then I’ll be surprised, but maybe I’ll be into that, too. [From Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal, out 8/27 on Quiet Panic/Church Road Records.]
Gilded Age – “Forgiven”
On the supremely cathartic new 10-minute album, the Portland powerviolence band Gilded Age gave their instrumentals to 10 different people who identify as women, and those women wrote and screamed the lyrics. “Forgiven,” written and howled by one Cassi, isn’t really about forgiving anyone. It’s about living with what someone has done to you: “When I think of you, I don’t cry! I just choke! Choke! Choke! Choooooke!” A lot of Gilded Age’s songs speed by in broken-blender blurs, but this one slows down enough to hit crazy hard. [From Voices, out now on Zegema Beach Records/Tomb Tree Tapes.]
Love Is Red – “So Long”
Nashville’s Love Is Red made a couple of albums of superlative shout-along big-room melodic hardcore in the early ’00s, and then they broke up in 2004. Other than a one-off reunion show in 2010, they stayed broken up. But now they’re back, 17 years later, with a new EP, and they still sound ferocious. Everyone who was in Love Is Red went on to different hardcore bands, so it’s not exactly shocking that they’re able to pick things up where they left off. All the songs on the new EP are deeply satisfying grown-man ragers, but closing track “So Long” is the one that feels most like an instant anthem. [From Darkness Is Waiting EP, self-released, out now.]
Slow Fire Pistol – “Who Decides”
The members of Slow Fire Pistol all come from the Atlanta hardcore scene, so it means something that their new song “Exit 24” is just one supremely nasty riff played over and over for six minutes. Slow Fire Pistol clearly intend to evoke the chaos of first-wave screamo, and they do that. But they also sound like they’re scrambling in every direction, trying to summon an expressive clangor that doesn’t fit within any genre norms, which is also what those screamo bands were doing. You can hear that in how “Who Decides” careens recklessly from violence to prettiness and back again. [From Rabbit Town Blues EP, out now on Triple B Records.]
Turnstile – “Mystery”
Mid-’90s alt-rock has always been a touchstone for Turnstile, and it was hard to talk about Time + Space without invoking early Foo Fighters. The grand return “Mystery,” the band’s first song in three years, has some of that muscular melody to it, but it also reminds me of some of the really good stuff that came out at the end of the hair-metal era and got totally ignored — stuff like Tora Tora’s “Amnesia,” for instance. This is a good thing. I am ready for a full-on hair-metal Turnstile — or, if not that, than for whatever Turnstile do next. The ending of “Mystery” seems like a buildup to some new explosion, so I’m guessing we’ll find out what that is soon enough. [Stand-alone single, out now on Roadrunner Records.]