The thing about old hardcore bands is that they kind of never really die. There is inevitably some festival or other, especially these days, that will invite X or Y legendary hardcore band to get the kids to circle pit and stage-dive one more time all while pointing to the sky and shouting along unintelligibly to, usually, lyrics about how important it is to stand on your own two feet, rise above some aspect or another of society, and be true to yourself. There is a reason for this, though, and it’s because of a certain timelessness to the cliches that present themselves in what we think of when we call something “hardcore”.
These posts are written by: Bill Fetty
When TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins decided to explore his own pet project by joining forces with Skyharbor’s Keshav Dhar and Randy Slaugh to create White Moth Black Butterfly, it began as a modest attempt to explore some ideas that diverged from the type of rock for which his main band is most known. 2013’s One Thousand Wings (here’s what we had to say about “Certainty” from that album) was a sonic departure, to be sure, but it still maintained something of a kinship with its flagship influences. As with anything that we’ve come to understand about Tompkins, he will expound upon ideas over time and so the re-emergence of this project in 2017 means we should expect a few new twists, turns, and embellishments on the sound he helped to create several years ago.
Lifelink comes to us courtesy of Philadelphia record label, Innerstrength, having honed their particular take on metallic hardcore on their second release, Love Lost. The EP heavily features the guitar talents of Josh Brown and Kamran Oskouie, some might even say it relies on them. The track we’re premiering here, “Lost”, shows roots similar to those of Architects, Volumes, and Novelists, with some nicely worked exchanges from Brown and Oskouie as they switch from mid-tempo moshes to trading off leads amidst Dillinger-esque chords. Meanwhile vocalist, Luke Blanchard, stays firmly in the pocket between a growl and a yell which might belie the range he has developed since the band’s last release, Nothing, that came out in 2015.
While death and black metal are seeing amazing leaps forward in talent, production, and ability for the denizens of the traditional metal world what we’re seeing from bands such as Enforcer, dawnbringer, Sumerlands, Eternal Champion, and Striker must seem like manna from heaven… or hell, depending upon your preference. One band that has been plugging away at this style, beginning as a bit of a Mercyful Fate worship act and evolving with each new release is Sweden’s Portrait (the band name derives from Diamond’s first solo album, Fatal Portrait). On their latest offering, Burn the World, we see a band who is getting comfortable with their own take on the venerable speed riffs, blazing solos, and soaring vocals of trad metal creating an addictive blend for fans.
Modern hardcore, in its most traditional strain, stems directly from the likes of Black Flag but exists now through a twisted evolution that people like me have attempted to label with absurd titles like emoviolence, powerviolence, and any number of “-core” affixed descriptors. However, one of the main common themes that can be found when listening to or discovering newer variants is a critical nucleus consisting of compact, ferociously brief songs that maintain a rapidfire pace just shy of grind, at least to these ears. Sometimes these include (extremely) brief breakdowns or mid-tempo breathers before flying off the handle again in a manic explosion of righteous vengeance and furious anger.
One band that hits all of those elements and goes hard as fuck on their new EP is Entry out of Los Angeles, CA.
Punk is a style we like to cover at Heavy Blog when we can but often times it gets a little buried or we get behind on what’s going on in that particular area of the Heavy World. So we’re going to try something new here. In this column we’ll recommend some of the best in (the broadest definition of) punk as we see it. Each month we’ll hit on some new releases, talk about the tours big and small, and, hopefully, get feedback from you, Dear Reader, if we miss something that we should feature out of the punk realm. There are a number of great places to get your fix of punk music and tour stories but we’re going to give you the Heavy Blog spin on that here with What’s Up, Punks. Enjoy!
Pop punk is a genre that has in many ways stagnated, if you’re a pessimist, or coalesced and solidified into its more permanent sound, if you’re an optimist. That hasn’t stopped new bands from forming and taking their own stab at that sound as it can vary just enough to appeal to a variety of musicians and fans of very, very different things. One end of pop punk might favor the hyperspeed riffing and snotty vocals of NOFX and their lineage, while another side might gravitate towards the mid-tempo guitars and syrupy sweet vocal styling that was more in line with Green Day and the back catalog of bands who found a home on the now defunct Lookout! Records during their ‘90s heyday.
Enter: Howling Giant. They have returned with their third release, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2, and have turned out something quite awesome with their collection of blueprints. The band here are in fine form melding together some of the best elements of bands such as Coheed and Cambria, Elder, and Mastodon. The spacier prog rock of the first band collides with the low end progressive doom of the second before topping off the mix with a hint of the Atlanta stalwarts vocal style that swirls and builds to something quite satisfying. Hear this delightful concoction for yourself in our exclusive streaming premiere below.
I’ve written before, as I’m sure I will again, about the therapeutic nature, if not outright necessity, of music. The healing properties and medicinal purposes of this art is fairly well-chronicled but we can never be reminded of that enough. In my own experiences, and where I find myself in life, a lot of that healing or mental well-being is cultivated in listening to varieties of post-fill in the blank music. I listen to it at night when I need to calm my brain down, when I need to be able to focus on work, or I feel something that I can’t express. Others will inevitably have their own preferred niche, genre, or style. None of them are invalid options.
Music operates in cycles and waves, with the energy generated from one, feeding directly into another. This is one of the major ways that we see genres and styles achieve growth. One particular genre that we have seen outgrow its roots and reach with newly grown tentacles into ever-evolving styles is hardcore. Just look around at the number of sub-genres that include the affix of “core” to their names. In this piece we look at the bands who evolved hardcore in both subtle and major ways to arrive at what we now know as “metalcore.” First, we take a look at some of the bands who were most directly tied to hardcore in its last iteration before metalcore truly came into being.