Extended Pleasure: Hardcore 4 Hardcore Edition
Rival Mob references. No comic books.
This will sound condescending, but it is sincere: I will always, always, find it endearing when straight edge hardcore bands write songs that are not about anything other than being straight edge. What other subgenre has such a singular focus? Such a dogged determination to attack one concept over and over? It’s about being edge. It’s about why I am. It’s about why you aren’t. It’s about why you not being is a big fuckin’ problem. One of my high school bands was a band that trafficked in this precise sentiment. Every single song was a straight edge anthem—and half the band wasn’t even straight edge! (Our most popular song signaled It’s Mosh Time by yelling, “Suck My X.” Yes, we were awesome.) It’s a type of hardcore I’ll adore forever not in spite of but precisely because I’m a washed-up sellout. I’ve still got those Xs—college bold font, obviously—on my right arm and in my heart.
Which is perhaps why I both should and should not be writing this post. I’m the target audience and the target for bands like XweaponX. Hailing from the storied scene of Louisville, KY, and boasting members of Knocked Loose and Inclination, XweaponX has me in their crosshairs, and they will not hesitate to drop any sucker. Do I want an intro track that simply screams, “Straight. Edge. Weapon X.” over a huge two-step stomp that turns into a windmill-fest breakdown that then turns into an even slower windmill-fest breakdown? You’re goddamned right I do! Am I also the person who “lack[ed] the discipline,” “lack[ed] the fucking strength,” and was “not strong enough to keep [my] word”? Right again! It is my cross to bear to remind these Louisville sluggers why it is always and forever True Till Death. It’s my blade that cuts the deepest.
All of which is to say: listen to the 2022 Weapon X demo. It’s 5 tracks and 8 minutes of Until the End meets First Blood meets Death Before Dishonor hardcore that will slap that cigarette out of your mouth at the Saturday matinee just like my high school girlfriend once did to someone.
Building on the brute strength of their 2022 demo, XweaponX teamed up with Calgary, Alberta’s World of Pleasure to unleash the Weapon of Pleasure split EP this March via Connecticut powerhouse label Daze. Featuring Jess and Colter from behemoths Mortality Rate, World of Pleasure asks the question: what if Mortality Rate but even heavier and laser-focused on veganism? The answer, of which neither band would approve: just hook it to my veins.
World of Pleasure released their debut three-song demo back in 2020. Over the course of 6 visceral minutes, Jess Dyx excoriates those who would “wander blindly through [a] world of pleasure” at the expense of the sickening amount of pain inflicted on non-human animals (to say nothing of the suffering factory farmers whose lives are often rendered hellish by crushing debt and mass extermination of life). Sonically calling to mind bands such as Living Hell, All Hell Breaks Loose, and the Jacksonville legends xTime to Diex, World of Pleasure wants one thing—a thing I also want—and one thing only: vegan domination by way of huge breakdowns and a drum sound only a death metal fan could love. It’s simple, really: enjoy your world of pleasure and end up “bleeding out on the killing floor grate” or join the liberation movement.
Returning in 2022 with World of Pleasure & Friends, World of Pleasure keeps intact more than just their vegan straight edge warpath. We find on & Friends the same bizarre, wobbly, unsettling video game aesthetic and the legitimately inventive use of their own band name as both a call to arms and a fiery critique. This time, though, they’ve brought friends. With the help of folks from True Love, Despize, Safe and Sound, and Witness Chamber, World of Pleasure assures us all that “everyone finds love,” but they hope that you—yes you specifically, reader—don’t. Blame your selfish bliss, not us. We found love.
Which brings us back, albeit quite circuitously, to the main event and the one teased a few paragraphs above. Weapon of Pleasure is the logical next step for two bands with a helluva knack for exciting collaboration as well as narrative concision. “Domination III” and “World War X” see the bands swap song titles while inviting the other band’s vocalist onto their own turf in a way that strikes me as delightfully and playfully coherent. If you can’t guess the content of these tracks—even with lyrics missing from the bandcamp page (c’mon, folks at Daze!)—you haven’t been paying attention. It’s domination. It’s war. It’s straight fucking edge. It’s vegan over everything.
As a hardcore old-fogey, as a sellout, as a vegan, as a lover of EPs, as a lover of demos, as a lover of splits, as a lover of sneaking creativity and thoughtfulness into the most knuckle-dragging-ass sound imaginable, I can’t think of something I’m more suited to love than Weapon of Pleasure. The split’s closing track, my personal favourite, finds World of Pleasure one last time highlighting what makes this split so fun: borrowing—let’s call it citing, let’s call it invoking, let’s call it remixing, let’s call it a mutual love affair-ing—the final line from XweaponX’s “In Spite Of” but turning it to account for the band’s own particular agenda. “I am straight edge in spite of you,” XweaponX concludes. “I am vegan in spite of you,” echoes and concludes World of Pleasure. And what a conclusion it is.