No Heroes in New England // Week of June 12, 2016

Welcome to yet another week of No Heroes in New England—your source for only the best hardcore that New England has to offer to the world. Last week shed some light on some excellent bands, including Chaos Cross, Burden, and Mass Graves, and this week we have some weird stuff, including the newest genre craze, Spongecore (not really, but more on that later), and just some more kickass music that you’ll want to listen to so loud that you’ll develop tinnitus.

So, strap on in and enjoy another entry of No Heroes!

Goolagoon

I really had no other choice but to talk about this. From the minute I saw this band’s album cover and heard the opening track of their Patrickviolence demo, I knew that this was going to be the first band to talk about.

Goolagoon is a (mostly) powerviolence group hailing from Boston. This demo is the first material by them that I’ve seen surface online, but for a demo, its actually pretty good quality, and features some well-done powerviolence.

Obviously, the big pull here is that Goolagoon draws heavy influence from Spongebob Squarepants, with a sample from the show usually appearing in every song. Whether this is truly a gimmick or not is really up to debate, as the Spongebob references can seem a little out of place with the rest of the song. (For instance, the title track “Patrickviolence” starts off with the beginning of the show’s theme song, and then breaks into some pretty scorching powerviolence without really any rhyme or reason.) I, however, believe that the whole Spongebob thing that Goolagoon does fits really well into the band. Although I would’ve liked to see samples show up in different places rather than just the beginning (the track “Goo Lagoon”—is the only song to break that formula), I liked how the band used said samples as a jumping off point for some cool lyrics. “F.U.N.,” probably my favorite track, uses the beginning of the titular Spongebob song (“what is fun?”) to talk about the reckless hedonism that’s seemingly ubiquitous to the life of the average college student, and the proverbial cement truck that is adulthood crashing through after four years.

All in all, this is a great (albeit short) little demo. Goolagoon plays some great powerviolence, and their sense of humor, mixed with their philosophical beliefs and a strong sense of musicianship, makes for a really fun and interesting listen. Let’s not forget that it’s free, and, according to the band, always will be.

Before I Had Wings

After that little cartoony detour, we’re back to more traditional hardcore sounds and themes. Before I Had Wings is based out of Massachusetts and New York, and plays some pretty ripping metallic hardcore. As of this writing, they have two releases to their name: Dethroned and Burn the Impure, which both seem to be album length (though I’m not entirely certain), with Dethroned having dropped earlier this May.

Much like last week’s band, Mass Graves, BIHW plays a pretty standard type of hardcore, usually keeping things on the slower side. Vocalist Wojo (which, great name by the way) puts a lot of Jamey Jasta into his vocal delivery, though his vocals are much more gruff and a bit deeper in pitch. Generally the whole thing feels like it’s been influenced by Hatebreed, but before you count this band out as some stupid cover band or a group that blatantly rips off another more successful band, think again. BIHW has some gruesomely good production, making use (I assume) of a noise gate and a really crunchy guitar tone. This brings some sniper-like precision to their playing. While many hardcore bands use feedback as a tool in their music (which, admittedly, I love), Before I Had Wings rarely integrates it into their music, instead relying on the sheer brutality of their songwriting and Wojo’s hardcore behemoth of a voice.

If you’re looking for the sort-of-melodic and noisy side of hardcore (a la Converge) you won’t find it here. BIHW isn’t that type of band. They aren’t the type to put incredibly poetic lyrics in their songs or experiment a lot, but what they have works for them. Instead of all those tropes that infect a lot of hardcore today (not in a bad way, mind you) Before I had Wingsknows what they want in music and simply takes it, with their target being crushing, sledgehammer-to-the-face violence.

Vaulted

I’m not sure if you the reader have noticed, but I keep mentioning that “hardcore” to me means more than just metallic hardcore, and that I will be giving nods to not only metallic hardcore bands, but post-hardcore and hardcore punk groups as well. Well, for the first time I’m actually living up to that statement. Well, sort of.

Meet Vaulted, a hardcore punk band out of Boston. As far as I can tell, their only release to date is a small four-song EP called Better Days. But holy shit is it an awesome four songs, giving us a good mix of what the band is capable of, yet having the band retain a pretty signature sound.

Vaulted reminds me a little bit of Swamps, who I covered a few weeks ago; they combine the traditional DC hardcore punk sound and aesthetic with a little bit of New England Hardcore flavor. “Dark Days” feels more traditional punk, as if Minor Threat had beefed up their sound a bit, but then “Discontent” uses a lot of open, distorted notes in the vein of a more Converge-influenced band.

Better Days doesn’t seem to be distinctly political (i.e. there aren’t any specific references to policies or leaders), but they seem to be overtly critical of the ignorance of US culture at the moment. Their album cover gives a good look at their thoughts, with masses of people being stuck underground, surrounded by giant billboard ads. It’s actually a cool throwback to the more sociopolitically active hardcore punk scene of the 80s, but it’s a nice modern take on it; instead of taking potshots at Reagan, Vaulted seems to speak about the herd mentality of capitalism and religion on the United States population. (But, that’s just what I’ve taken away from it; the band didn’t list any lyrics, so your guess is as good as mine what their intention truly is.)