A Buncha Hahdcoah
Open this pit up!
But don’t try to pull me into it. There’s a reason I’m standing at the back. I just wanna see people flailing their limbs like martial artists on meth from a safe distance. That’s because I don’t get this genre at all (as the following reviews are sure to illustrate), but it sure is fascinating to watch.
Anyway, what I hope to present you with today are a couple of bands that base their sound on hardcore elements, but take it into different, interesting directions from there.
Enemy Mind – Killer Beef
Since the term is used somewhat ambiguously, let’s start with a prime example of what I mean when I talk about hardcore. This thing is so laden with clichés that it’s a morbid joy to behold. Incredibly beefy-sounding guitars play chugging riffs at mostly mid-tempo and frequently come to a complete halt only to start up again even slower and even chuggier. The singer roars out tough lyrics (all available on the Bandcamp page – in capital letters, of course) about inner strength, haters, and backstabbing frienemies, featuring splendid lines like “REAL MOTHERFUCKERS KNOW WHAT REAL SHIT IS” and frequently backed by gang shouts. All this is stuff I usually hate, but it seems so damn exaggerated that I can’t help but find it entertaining, and it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of a world you’re thoroughly not a part of. It also helps that they occasionally speed things up and there’s even a blast beat or two to be found. Highlights: the lyrics.
Adrenaline – Adrenaline
I’m pretty certain Adrenaline’s sound is straight from the 90s, but can’t identify an exact point of origin. Not sure whether that’s because it’s more complicated than I think or if I just lack expertise. There used to be a German series of compilations that prided itself on its “crossover” appeal, and I feel like this would have fit on there perfectly, somewhere between Biohazard, the Rollins Band, and Dog Eat Dog. Maybe throw some Suicidal Tendencies in there, what with the clean vocals that lean towards rapping. While exuding plenty of tough guy attitude, they makes for a lot of the music’s old school charm, and the rest of their sound further cements this by not going overboard with the distortion and not having any over-the-top breakdowns. It’s a lithe, bouncy style that almost warrants the term “funky” and is much more likely to make you jump than spin-kick through the pit. It successfully functions as a time capsule that, oddly enough, makes me feel nostalgic for a kind of music I never really listened to outside of said compilations and the occasional video on MTV. Highlight: “Masked Out.”
Hellhorse – Paradise Lost
I think the “metalcore” tag used in the press text doesn’t do these guys justice, and I’d say the vocal approach and the d-beats reveal enough hardcore roots to warrant its inclusion, even though you may want to make ample use of the “post-” prefix. That certainly seems to become necessary once the middle of the EP veers into more adventurous territory, first with “Sidewinder” plucking some more emotional strings and then “Perennial Downpour” managing to sound like the soundtrack to a tragic Western movie. Even the more straightforward bangers may throw you a few curveballs though. Highlights: “Sidewinder,” “Burning Eden.”
Pissed Regardless – Imperial Cult
The music bears more hallmarks that I associate with hardcore than that of Hellhorse, but still doesn’t let them dominate the sound entirely. While pounding breakdowns do occur frequently, they are never long (small wonder perhaps, given the average length of the tracks) and always retain some of the momentum from the parts surrounding them. Said parts are often focused on creating driving rhythms intent on spurring you on rather than making you stop dead in your tracks and punch things in your immediate vicinity. The band further muddies the water as the album progresses, with later songs taking more cues from crossover thrash, “Bleeder” venturing into melodic territory, and the longer tracks generally exploring a wider range of styles. Highlights: “Halls of Hate,” “Dichotomy.”