Effectively this is one of our Hey! Listen To This! posts. It just doesn’t have those words in the title. In the solo edition of Rotten to the Core previous, I spent a little bit of time on each band without really getting my teeth in to the juicy goodness underneath. That didn’t work for me. First up on the block, all on their lonesome this time, is Boston’s MouthBreather. A terrifyingly talented group of young musicians intent on sending me to the physiotherapist because I can’t stop banging my fucking head to their music. And I already have a bad neck.
On with the ‘core.
A renowned noise maker pointed me in the direction of MouthBreather at the end of last year and he knew exactly how I’d feel about them and I am forever in his debt. I’ve played the seven minute Pig EP enough times since then for it to knock most of last years AOTY shouts a long ways down my listen pile. Manic, mutilated mathcore like this doesn’t come easy, and definitely doesn’t usually start so strong. In the short duration of their debut, MouthBreather splice mathcore stutters with stripped down vocals and all of the nasty laser beam guitars you can play while leaping around stage; the kind that shriek and wail and generally make folk do this face.
The closest current comparison I can/want to make is SeeYouSpaceCowboy and their not so orthodox take on grind. MouthBreather do it with hardcore though (and this isn’t Grind My Gears). “Born Dead” is a better song than most of your top tier hXc bands have ever pulled off and it’s probably not even the best blaster on the EP. Someone wiser than me will tell me what the fuck it’s called but the main chugging component of that huge riff feels just ahead of the beat, something that always perks my waxy ears up. “Tourniquet” and it’s whiplash shift from silence to savagery is the other focus track I guess. The whammy scrapes (maybe?) stamp the chant of “tourniquet, tourniquet, tourniquet” like my favourite shrill moments on “Yippee Ki-Ay Motherfucker” from Danza III. It’s not because of the guitar style as much as how the first time I heard it it brought up the same feelings and again, this face.
All of the elements of great hardcore music are here. Guitar, bass and drums do crunching riffs and huge beats with no fuss or frills (besides the pedal boards involved) but it wouldn’t be as charming without the vocals. Everyone knows hardcore sucks if the vocals aren’t up to it. The manic panic in the delivery is jarring as hell and really gets under the skin and on top of the groove. It’s one of the few things that might distract a potential fan. Any one used to grunting and barking might find themselves a tad distracted by the ‘my house is burning down around me but I need to finish telling you this story’ verses that lash out all over Pig. It’s totally deranged and unhinged and it makes so much sense in the context of explosive mathcore at this level. See “Prometheus” below.
As fleeting as Pig is, the Boston natives make the most memorable of first impressions. If Code Orange is the only modern hardcore sound that you’ve suffered through, then let these debutantes clean out your pipes. If you’ve already been jocking them as hard as I have then congratulations, your fantastic taste has been validated. The only way is forward for MouthBreather and you can bet something not too valuable on it that I’ll be coming back around to them in the future. If someone tells you this isn’t hardcore then they’re probably just a shitty person to begin with and you can just go right on and ignore everything else they say from there on out.