Reviews

Quality Control HQ

Existence Into the Furnace EP

EXISTENCE of Stockholm fuse melodically charged, metallic Scandi-death metal riffing with an overt NYHC style. Imagine if AMORPHIS or KATATONIA had mixed it up with 25 TA LIFE, CRO-MAGS, and MERAUDER. The riffs are intoxicating, and the grunting and barking vocals are totally menacing. There has been a resurgence of deathcore as of late, and I’m kind of drawn to it again. Thinking of the MOMENT OF TRUTH/KRUELTY split… EXISTENCE here joins those rank beats, while retaining unique thrashing compositions that blend harmonizing ethereal death metal and Neanderthal pit-core. Themes include the struggles of fascism in Sweden and abroad, and also delve into cathartic perspectives on realizing one’s mistakes. Heavy on many levels, and a sonic rager.

Gutter Knife Boots on the Ground LP

Blending the punch and drive of O.G. hardcore in the vein of GOVERNMENT ISSUE with Oi!/UK82 sensibilities echoing bands like COMBAT 84 and the 4-SKINS, GUTTER KNIFE hails from the seaside slums of Brighton, England. These ten tough tracks range from relentless pummeling, to snotty speed attacks, to COCKNEY REJECTS-style “football” rockers, all painted with the perfect gruff and loose vocals to put ‘em right over the top. The band wears their influences on their record sleeve, as every single song title sounds like something you might make up if joking around about “skunk” rock bands of this sort (“Hangman,” “No Justice,” and “Boots on the Ground,” for example). I mean that in the best possible way, as these guys strike all the right chords, giving France’s RIXE some stiff competition for the title of present-day Oi! Champions. Fingers crossed for more of this butter from the GUTTER.

Payday Second to None LP

PAYDAY from London is named after the CONFRONT 7”, and nothing about them is really surprising, but it doesn’t need to be. An expertly executed mix of CONFRONT, RINGWORM, and INTEGRITY, they’ve got divebombs galore, vocals alternately growly and guttural, and plenty of riffs. “Dead on Your Feet” is my favorite track, but they’re all good, and though I wish this record was a track or two shorter, it’s a great slice of Cleveland hardcore worship sure to get all the lads moshing.

Vile Spirit Scorched Earth LP

Scorched Earth is VILE SPIRIT’s debut LP led up by a demo. I knew and enjoyed the tape, due to its similarities to UNITED MUTATION. The LP, too, contains weird, even horror-esque excipients, haunted sore-throat vocals on music so detailed it becomes an unifying entity, that behaves in various tempers throughout the record. The edge of capital hardcore is deadened by shifting the hardness of the performers on the circumstanstances they perform against/about. Which makes the music tortured, but backs up the dense sound while avoiding any ridicule. The music is heavy because life is tough, instead of the members acting jock-ish. While the vocals are laid in mid-tempo, the instruments do not slack on their layers: The drums wonder into restrained blast-beat territories; the bass is distorted into a pulp filling up all empty spaces, binding the sound as glue; the guitars avoid both metal riffage and simplified three-chord hardcore notes; rather they function as a tidal wave, both loose and large. VILE SPIRIT is playful with pace, even if the artwork suggests some kind of still-in-the-basement, emphasis-on-core ’90s metallic hardcore. Scorched Earth is not an endless loop of chugga chugga, rather they imperceptibly mix with speed, blending different moods on a scale of hyper and almost zero tempo and remain confident no matter how shaky or swampy their ground is. Lately I have lost track of UK hardcore bands, no longer know whether this is still the new or now the neo wave of British bands, but due to the different references and execution, VILE SPIRIT differs the listening experiences I recall from their peers. If you tend to feel as the creature on their cover, you just as likely to enjoy the record. It’s a solid one.

Zulu My People…Hold On cassette

This is a follow-up to the first release of Anaiah Lei’s one-man HC assault on hypocrisy and performative justice. Showing no sign of slowing down, a vicious and heavy listen that echoes the more modern PV bands (think mid-to-late 2000s) or grind that sits on the HC end of the spectrum, with tinges of youth crew coming through (especially in those massive breakdowns). A release that is thick with frustration as the opening poem, bluntly explaining the persistent hypocrisy a Black woman faces on a daily basis, sets the tone for this tape; melded together expertly with samples from the classic EDDIE KENDRICKS track of the same name, this reminds me of classics from the early West Bay grind scene, where you were just as likely to hear a sample from an old Black Panthers chant as you were to catch a horror movie snippet. Recommended and definitely one to keep an eye on.