Konichiwa, and welcome to this week’s installment of No Heroes in New England, where we dig deep, deep into BandCamp for the best underground hardcore the East Coast has to offer. If you want last week’s entry, click here.
Grindcore has always gone hand-in-hand with punk; after all, on a taxonomic level, the latter developed from increasingly-brutal strains of thrash metal. (And, I mean, it has the suffix “-core” on it as well, so, duh.) New Hampshire’s Guilt seems to not only be aware of this, but blends grindcore nicely with crust punk.
While the band for the most part is a hybrid of crust and grind, The ratio can vary depending on the release you decide to listen to. With their latest EP, 2015’s Harvest/Decay, and their debut Demonstration, Guilt commands more grindcore. You’ve got micro songs, with the longest being just under a minute and a half, blast beats played so fast that you almost swear for a second that it’s sped up, and guitar that sticks (for the most part) to lower-register riffs, although the last two tracks have a bit more crust.
If grindcore isn’t your thing, or you want something with a little more discernible, I’d suggest listening to Guilt’s Primitive Form EP, which features more hardcore influence than Harvest/Decay. It’s wonderfully noisy and reminds me a little of how bands like Gay Kiss, Converge, and Throwers interpret hardcore, but Guilt puts a little more meat on their sound, which I can’t say I hate.
The band’s lyrics aren’t half bad, either, at times combining the frank goriness of a grindcore act with the poeticism and misanthropy of a hardcore band into a heartfelt (albeit angry) commentary on modern life and society.
It’s not easy to blend genres in a way that stands out and pays some due homage to both genres, but Guilt does a pretty great job at it, and adds some intelligent thought to it as well with their lyrics. Gotta love that logo, too.
I hope you like your hardcore angry and so raw that your ears have a chance of getting E-Coli, because that’s what you’re getting with Boston’s D-Sagawa. So far, the band only has what I assume to be an EP (considering its short runtime even for punk standards), with the happy title of I Want to Die Suffering. Again, this is a rough album; Jon Richard’s bass sounds like a broken motor, Jessica Campbell’s vocals are deliciously brutal and throat-shredding, and the production overall is pretty lo-fi, which sort of fits with the whole d-beat thing that the band does for this album.
The real crux for enjoying I Want to Die Suffering and the band in general, though, is dealing with their incredibly misanthropic and often horrendously gory themes. The name D-Sagawa is a portmanteau of d-beat and Issei Sagawa—a Japanese man famous for brutally murdering and then eating a French woman back in the 80s, and Sagawa himself is actually pictured on the album cover with a pentagram on his forehead. The album’s lyrics are mostly very short statements condemning the brutality that humankind is capable of inflicting on itself, including war and mass murder, but also include real-life sound bytes. The track “Hell Awaits,” for example, showcases the 911 call from Donald Spirit, who, in 2014, murdered his daughter and grandchildren before committing suicide.
Honestly, these lyrics and imagery make me incredibly uncomfortable, which I guess is the band’s point, considering the way their lyrics play out, but it’s nonetheless disturbing material to listen to. D-Sagawa writes admittedly-great punk for an underground band in a genre that’s full of Discharge clones, but unless you’re a fan of goregrind or can deal with pretty dark themes examined in explicit detail, you might want to skip listening to it.
Bringing it back to the straight-up (and straight-edge) hardcore punk I originally fell in love with, we end with Boston’s own UNTOUCHABLE.
When it comes to instrumentals, UNTOUCHABLE pretty much sticks to the sound established in the DC and Boston hardcore areas—featuring some juicy power chords to get your blood pumping—and, admittedly, they play it well. What brings the band home, though, is the vocals, which have a growly power to them as opposed to the yelling and shouting that bands like Minor Threat and Descendents made use of. Think more Negative Approach vocals than anything.
UNTOUCHABLE is a great band, but I do wish they had more in the way of releases. Their Live @ The BR and their demo EPs—both released this year—give you a good idea of what they’re about, but it’d be nice to have more, considering how short punk songs are. The live EP is a bit lacking in sound quality (apparently it was taken from a video of the band’s set) but you can’t really expect more with a newer band in the hardcore scene.
No matter what you think of the band, though, you can’t deny that their spirit and dedication to hardcore is palpable. “Inside This Room” off of the Live EP starts with the singer briefly talking about unity in hardcore, and how it’s often misinterpreted as, ironically, a method of exclusion and a trademark of the hardcore scene instead of just what it means.
So, again, I’d love to hear more from UNTOUCHABLE, but what they have so far is absolutely worth your time if you’re into this sort of hardcore punk.