New England: home of the Red Sox, Jack Kerouac, and some pretty damn fine hardcore. And as much as I’d love to obsess about and name celebrities that also call this place home, we have a fucking article to do! For those who are new: No Heroes is a weekly column that sheds some light on new and upcoming hardcore bands from New England. “Hardcore” in this context is a little vague, referring to not only metalcore (metallic hardcore), but hardcore punk and basically anything else using the hardcore title. Enjoy!
I’ve previously mentioned (in my not-so-nice review of Sunshine Ward) that d-beat hasn’t been a scene with a lot of evolution. The genre pretty much started and ended with Discharge, and it feels like all the other bands that claim to play d-beat are just copying Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. (No offense to Discharge, of course; that album is fucking great, in my opinion.)
That being said, I feel like I might have been a bit too hasty in my evaluation, as Boston’s Green Beret is doing (relatively) new things with the d-beat sound, and are arguably bringing their own distinct sound into the genre.
Now, when I say “distinct sound,” and “new things with d-beat,” you have to realize that this is within the context of the d-beat scene. To call Green Beret a band as revolutionary as, say, Refused, would be wholly inaccurate, but they certainly won’t make you bored as you listen to them.
Basically, Green Beret takes that d-beat formula—the distinctive drumbeats, the relatively simple guitar riffs, the strong sociopolitical lyrics—and builds on that skeleton. Again, it’s not a huge change, but considering how dry d-beat can be, it’s distinctive enough. Sometimes the drums change things up, and the guitars have a lot more action and technicality to them, as opposed to Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’s plodding power chords. Essentially the band takes what made regular hardcore punk great and blended it with the d-beat formula. Tracks like “Truth Denial” and “Overthrow” feature pseudo-divebomb guitar maneuvers that launch listeners into the track, and the band’s vocalist has a deep yell that I actually like, if only for its distinctiveness amount hardcore bands. You hear it, and you know it’s Green Beret playing.
(To note: these observations are based on the band’s latest release, Standing At The Mouth Of Hell, which came out in March of this year, but I felt it worth mentioning Green Beret also has a few other releases under their belt, including their 2010 demo, 2012’s Violence Is Their Currency, 2013’s The Cult of State, and a live album recorded in 2014. )
So, if you’re a Discharge fanboy that isn’t too into the band’s latest effort, try out Green Beret for a slight change of taste.
You can sometimes get a feel for metallic hardcore bands based on their artwork. Some stick to more traditional punk imagery—concert photos and the like, and play more beatdown hardcore—while others like Converge manage to walk the line in between metal and punk with often disturbing imagery done up with punk aesthetics like graffiti in mind and seem to perfectly blend the two genres. Connecticut’s Jagged Vision’s sticks to the metal aesthetic strongly, with their album Black Sun Zenith’s artwork featuring a heavily-textured band of hooded skeletons presiding beneath a blackened sun, and their music follows in that path nicely.
Yes, this is metallic hardcore, let there be no doubt—but Jagged Visions brings new meaning to that term. Vocalist Kyle Naumec has a nice rasp to his yells that feels just a few steps away from being a black metal shriek, and while Bartek Alberski and Justin Legere’s guitar work screams punk with moshing riffs and devastating breakdowns, there are equally shares of groove metal-esque licks and the like. Black Sun Zenith also features a number of additional vocal features that add to both the punk and metal sides of the band, including even a light bar of rapping on “Gods of Filth.” (Just hold back your reservations on rapping and listening to it; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.)
Honestly, I was surprised to come across this band; it was like a stroke of luck. I regularly go on Bandcamp to scout for bands, and most either don’t fit the bill for No Heroes or just aren’t very good. Jagged Visions happens to fit both rules but also goes above and beyond that. Also, major credit is due for the band’s lyrics, the favorite of mine (the track “Mind Slaver”) being “Strap your face to the God box / Work a never-ending shift and die at your desk.” I don’t know, I just like that.
Anyway, if you want metalcore with emphasis on the metal and featuring the best of what hardcore has to offer, give Jagged Visions a listen and be amazed.
Down With Rent
For our last band we’re staying in Connecticut and trying out something on the more hardcore punk side of things with New Britain’s Down With Rent. Before I get to their music, though, I’d like to point out their band logo, which, like their name suggests, features a dollar symbol with the slash turning into a down arrow. I know this seems like a small, superfluous detail, but I fucking love punk logos, especially when they’re distinctive and have had thought put into them, and this symbol has it in spades.
Cooler yet, Down With Rent has the music to back up such a badass image. Think of this as the evil twin of Jagged Visions, in a sense; while there’s a distinctive metalcore influence here—you can’t get past those heavy, chunky guitars and the use of feedback and breakdowns after all—it’s all tied up in a nice hardcore punk bow, from the music to the imagery to the lyrics. The band’s Entitled to Demonstrations EP is angry and metallic but wholly punk, what with album artwork that reminds me a little of some of the artwork DRI used to do, politically conscious lyrics (“Nowhere to Run” takes a hard look at police violence), and a sound that can’t be beat.
All in all, the band reminds me a little of some earlier bands I covered such as Crystal Methodist, what with their modern approach to hardcore punk, but I feel that Down With Rent sticks more to their punk roots and gives fans the bashing their eardrums so desperately want.
Also: it’s so awesome to be able to actually hear a bass guitar in the mix! It adds such a nice fullness to the band’s sound!