Featured Release Roundup: May 14, 2020
Sial: Tari Pemusnah Kuasa 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) When Sial toured the US a while back, everyone I spoke to raved about what a great live band they were. I was already bummed I couldn't make their shows, but Tari Pemusnah Kuasa makes it sting even more. Like D-Clone or Zyanose at their best, Sial takes a blown-out, Disclose-influenced guitar sound and wrenches high drama from its monochromatic hiss. They can move from a low mosh inducing quicksand groove to a hyper-speed d-beat in a hair’s breadth, the transition giving the listener the same sense of weightlessness you get at the peak of your ascent on a vert ramp. Like the guitar sound, the vocals might seem one-dimensional at first, but I find myself yelling nonsense along at the key moments, showing those yells and screams punctuate the rhythm just as deftly as a talented jazz drummer attacks their crash cymbal. The riffs and instrumental arrangements are just as powerful, doling out the intensity in perfectly timed doses that keep the energy level in the red for the record’s entire duration. If you follow the hardcore we hype here at Sorry State, check this one out. It’s a real masterpiece.
Powerplant: A Spine / Evidence 7” (Static Shock) London’s Powerplant follows up their much-loved People in the Sun album with this noteworthy five-track EP. While Powerplant has expanded from a recording project to a full live lineup, this 7” shows no dilution of the singular voice that made People in the Sun stand out. If anything, A Spine / Evidence is even more singular, with the band locking into a voice utterly their own. Each track seems like its own universe, with the sound ranging from the dance-y “A Spine” (which reminds me of Freedom of Choice era Devo in the best way) to the dense, hardcore-ish closer “Hurtwood.” Powerplant combines a post-punk band’s sense of restraint with punk band’s energy level, a feat that’s difficult to achieve. Further, they wrap their sound in top-notch songwriting jammed with memorable moments. I think A Spine / Evidence is even better than People in the Sun, and it’s worth checking if you’re into anything from Diat’s catchy post-punk to the glass-smashing anthems on Total Punk Records.
False Brother: Uncanny Valley 12” (Iron Lung) Kansas City’s False Brother weren’t on my radar before Iron Lung dropped this 12”, but it’s a great fit with the post-punk oriented bands on that label, particularly Diat and Total Control. While not as anthemic as either of those bands, False Brother has a sound that splits the difference between minimal synth and classic post-punk, reminding me of the early Human League tracks or moments of Joy Division’s Closer that seemed to foreshadow New Order’s later moves. The drum machine kicks with the power of dance music, but the rhythms stick to a slower, brooding tempo, with bass lines and synth noises traipsing across the abyss like mischievous ghosts. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned groups (or similar ones like Low Life or Constant Mongrel), this lodges its hooks in much the same way.
C.H.E.W.: In Due Time 7” (Iron Lung) Chicago’s C.H.E.W. drops five more songs on the hardcore faithful, and if you’re a fan of the style, this EP is essential. Like Raleigh’s great Vittna, C.H.E.W. is at equally at home with crushing, d-beat-inspired hardcore as they are with Die Kreuzen / Part 1-inspired creepy crawlers, and In Due Time achieves the band’s best balance of those two sounds yet. When I saw C.H.E.W. live, the first thing I noticed is that they have one of the best drummers in the current hardcore scene. While that didn’t come across as clearly on their previous records, In Due Time captures his heavyweight boxer-style balance of power and agility. The songs themselves are complex and dramatic, intricate mazes of stops and starts and clever transitions where a sasquatch might leap around a corner and deck you at any second. The EP reaches its climax with the closing track, Noise Square, where they dial back the heaviness and the sinister, Die Kreuzen-inspired guitar takes center stage. If you’ve liked C.H.E.W.’s previous releases, In Due Time is a no-brainer.
Arts: Graveside Summoning: Flaming Dagger 7” (Youth Attack) Graveside Summoning is the latest EP from Mark McCoy’s long-running black metal project, Arts. I’m not sure if I’ve ever checked out Arts before, but I like these four tracks. While several bands on the Youth Attack label dabble with different recipes with hardcore and black metal as ingredients, Arts’ scales tip way toward the metal side. The howling vocals, tinny recording, and melodic, single-string lead guitar melodies are pages torn straight from the Darkthrone playbook. However, I hear a distinct hardcore element coming through Graveside Summoning, particularly in the big, dramatic chord changes that punctuate every track. While a lot of black metal is blurry and stretched out, pulling the listener’s attention away from small details and toward a song’s (or a record’s) holistic atmosphere, Arts peppers their songs with moments that remind me of Youth of Today’s finger-pointing climaxes. I’m not sure what the truly kvlt would think about this, but if you’re down with the bm vibes sprinkled throughout Youth Attack’s catalog, odds are you’ll enjoy Graveside Summoning.