Woo-wee! Public Acid, folks - the undisputed pride of North Carolina! Or is it Virginia now? A bit of both perhaps?! Ah hell, is acknowledging geographic location really even relevant when it comes to top shelf hardcore punk? The dead fucks that made those borders and boundaries wouldn't know shit about riffs anyway. In the couple years since their self released 12" came into being, the band has gigged all over the country (back when that was an option) and expanded their catalog further via a flexi and some cassettes, garnering much deserved attention and adoration from those fortunate enough to be enlightened with those scenarios and/or physical formats. But that was the old world and what matters here and now is that the "CONDEMNATION" EP is 6 urgent blasts of punk music that result in a sonic whirlwind that few others have previously concocted. In a genre that has become dominated by embarrassing posturing, this slab is a much welcomed breath of fresh air in an age of suffocating and uncertainty. Recorded and mastered at Artifact Audio in NYC by Sasha Stroud just before the shit hit the fan, each record comes in a folded sleeve both designed and screen printed by Public Acid and collaborator/comrade Thomas Sara.
Our take: I should start this description by noting that Public Acid’s drummer works at Sorry State and the band members are friends, so you can dismiss my words as me blowing smoke up my friends’ asses. However, ignore me at your peril because Condemnation might be the best hardcore record of a year chock full of great hardcore records. (If you hear anyone say no good hardcore punk came out in 2020, that person is, objectively, a fool.) There’s so much to love about Public Acid that I can’t hope to enumerate all of it here, but one thing that draws me to them is their mix of artiness and neanderthal brutality. That’s a mix that almost always appeals to me, but Public Acid doesn’t achieve it by juxtaposing elements; instead, it something that’s baked into their approach and aesthetic at a deep level. The drums, the riffs, the vocals… everything about the music is so mean, so heavy, and so powerful, but there’s always something askew that keeps any of these elements from feeling dumbed down or obvious. That’s been true about the band from the beginning, but Condemnation is Public Acid’s most realized record. Besides great songs, powerful drumming, and riffs piled on top of riffs (tucked inside other riffs), Condemnation benefits from bassist Will Jarrot’s powerful yet adventurous playing and singer Wiley’s unhinged vocal style. Public Acid’s vocals have always been adventurous, but Condemnation features a widened vocabulary of vocalizations. Further, while a lot of hardcore vocals punctuate (or even just follow) the song’s main rhythm, Wiley’s vocals skitter across the top of these songs in unexpected ways, sounding more like a free jazz saxophonist’s lines than John Brannon or Roger Miret. As with every Public Acid release, Condemnation also features stunning artwork by the band’s visual collaborator Thomas Sara. Hardcore records don’t get much better than this, so if you like hardcore records, get this one.