Welcome to No Heroes In New England, where we mine all the relatively undiscovered gems throughout the New England Hardcore scene. Hardcore, in this column, can refer to not only metalcore, but hardcore punk, post-hardcore, and everything in between. If you missed last week’s column, (giving brief shout-outs to Nihil, Swamps, and Phantom Glue), click here to check it out.
I usually use Bandcamp to find bands for this column (as if that hasn’t been obvious), and that process usually requires wading through a lot of less-than-stellar bands until I find something that catches my attention. Strangely enough, the South Shore’s Mass Graves was one of the first bands I encountered while writing this, and they are really good, playing feet (or is it boots?)-on-the-floor hardcore with no bells and whistles attached. I only mention that they are traditionally metallic hardcore not to slight the band, but to make light of the paradox seemingly created by Mass Graves: they manage to have (in my opinion) a relatively singular sound despite doing really nothing different when it comes to the standard hardcore fare we see today.
Derek (no last name—none of the band members have last names, apparently)’s vocals have the attack and cunning of a deranged carnivorous predator, keeping his contributions stripped down, yet firmly in charge of the music, with an edge to his voice like a rusty box cutter. The instrumental contributions—thanks to Josh, Andrew, Chase, and Eddie (again, no last names) sharing guitar duties, bass, and drums, respectively—are blistering, groovy, tough as hell, but also tight and precise. Essentially, Mass Graves is a bear trap of a band: ready to bash someone’s nose in at a moments notice, yet poised and always at the ready.
When it comes to releases, the band only has three singles and a self-titled EP to their name, but all are very, very well-written. Their newest single, “Lord of Lies” is by far my favorite, though, plodding and crunchy with some really great artwork that seems to be an homage to older hardcore punk art. And, hey, it’s all for free at the moment, so, why not try it out?
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There are five tracks on Chaos Cross’s 2016 Demo EP (currently the only material the band has out) but one in particular—a snazzy little number called “Fed Through The Grinder”—speaks out to me the most, if only for its name, because listening to Chaos Cross is like imagining everything and everyone you’ve ever loved being shredded to pieces in a woodchipper. Not only does this Boston band’s music have a thrash-like edge of hatred—with some decent songwriting to boot—but the production used in the 2016 Demo adds to the entire experience, with guitars that sound like a lo-fi Entombed, drums that were almost certainly recorded in an open area with cement walls, and vocals that give Mille Petrozza’s yells on Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill a run for their money. Think distorted reverb. Think dissonant. Think chainsaw guitar tone. This, fellow readers, is Chaos Cross.
Normally, production like this would throw me off. I’d think it was some slapdash effort done by a couple of guys in their basement after a few too many Boston Lagers. But this is so off-the-wall brutal and noisy that it had to be purposefully done. (Not to mention that their Bandcamp page notes that it was actually mastered, and doesn’t seem to be a “live” recording.) The production just adds to the sound so fucking well; it’s a neat, Negative Approach-esque edge that only serves to highlight the band more.
On a level of songwriting, the Chaos Cross is pretty interesting, if only for their guitars, as guitarists Joey and Blake put together some feedback-ridden, devious-sounding, licks and riffs that have tiny frills that serve to augment the brutality of their music. Vocalist Joey constantly reminds me of a grizzled John Brannon—angry, annoyed, and barely legible (which is, again, a compliment, in this situation).
If you want something noisy, brutal as fuck, with just a tinge of thrash, Chaos Cross is the band for you.
Unlike last week’s spotlight on Phantom Glue—a band that was more of a sludge band influenced by hardcore—Brockton, Mass’s Burden writes some bitching hardcore that is influenced by other metal genres—in this case, doom and black metal—and manages to combine all the essential elements of each genre into a workable, cohesive sound that is still very much in our beloved genre of metallic hardcore.
So far, the band only has one release (with the exception of a single)—an EP called Nothing In Return that was released this year—but from this release alone you can tell that the band is ready for more. Already they have some serious songwriting skills as they blend some (not a whole lot) double-kick drums, guitar feedback, tremolo picking, and some huge, crunchy doom riffs together spectacularly, until really the only identifiable genre is skull-cracking, bone-shattering hardcore. Vocalist Cameron Newton brings a level of brutality to the music, while Steve Powers’s and Ian Timpany’s dual guitar work, combined with Joe Guillfoy’s bass and Pat Azzola’s drums seem to weave a soundtrack to the apocalypse—albeit an apocalypse that could only be brought on by the hardcore crews of America. This is some tight, tight, shit; Burden obviously has some serious writing chops, and all the members seem to work together with the precision of a heavily tattooed Olympic rowing team.
While I hope that all of these bands find some success in their music (and considering the quality that I’ve seen from all of them, it seems a distinct possibility), I can’t help but think that Burden will get there relatively soon. They have a relatively fresh sound, some super talented musicians on hand, and, if their music is any sort of indicator, a bloodthirsty hunger for success.