Record of the Week: Chain Whip - Two Step to Hell 12"
Chain Whip: Two Step to Hell 12” (Neon Taste Records) This new 12” EP from Vancouver’s Chain Whip is a non-stop barrage of punk energy. Chain Whip’s first album, 2019’s 14 Lashes, was a corker, a whirlwind of catchy west coast punk meets 80s US hardcore that was tailor made for my tastes, but Two Step to Hell is, in the label’s words, “meaner, faster, and a bit more pissed off.” As good as 14 Lashes was, this 6-track jolt of energy is even more exciting. Chain Whip fits squarely in the tradition of bands like the Freeze, the FU’s, Career Suicide, and Government Warning, all of whom took the anthemic, song-oriented punk of early Black Flag, the Germs, and the Adolescents and melded it with the blitzkrieg energy of pure USHC like Minor Threat. It’s rare to find a band that can both write songs this great and perform them with this level of precision and energy, but Chain Whip sounds like a flawless machine on this record. The songs fly by so quickly that you barely have time to process how killer they are. Take a track like “Blank Image,” whose great, TSOL-on-Jolt-Cola riff builds into a manic call and response chorus, repeats itself, then climaxes with a melodic guitar lead straight out of the Buzzcocks’ playbook. Every track is a miniature fast-motion masterpiece, reaching a crescendo with “Death Was Too Kind,” the Subhumans (Canaduh) singalong that closes the record. I’m tempted to complain that it’s only 9 minutes long, but this record is so killer that I wouldn’t want to upset its delicate balance with any unnecessary filler. Instead, I’ll just keep playing it three times in a row every time it hits my turntable. If you like hardcore punk, this is not one to miss.