Another week of No Heroes? You’re damn right it’s another week of this! New England never gives an inch when it comes to hardcore, and this week has some serious variety to it!
For those unfamiliar with this column, No Heroes In New England puts a spotlight on new and/or underground hardcore bands in the New England area. Our definition of hardcore encapsulates not only metalcore, but also hardcore punk, post-hardcore, and pretty much anything HC.
(To view last week’s article, click here.)
I was going to write about this band last week, but I wanted to let their sound sort of rest with me for a little bit before reporting about it. Hailing from Boston, Coagula is, as far as I can tell, a very new band, having only released a 2015 demo and a 2016 single to their name, but what they have is, in a sense, a new breath of fresh air for hardcore music: combining hardcore and death metal.
And, no. This isn’t deathcore; Coagula is much better than that. While most deathcore bands, in my opinion, lack interesting songwriting, Coagula is able to bring the best of these two genres together in a new, exciting way. Their music doesn’t just consist of breakdowns and filler; in fact, there’s a lot of intelligent songwriting put into the band—the musicians involved seem to know how to keep that metal earworm alive without going so far into variety as to distract the listener.
Converge guitarist and record producer Kurt Ballou once supposedly described his band’s early material as “a bunch of hardcore kids playing leftover Slayer riffs.” Similarly, Coagula are a bunch of hardcore kids playing Morbid Angel and Death. There’s almost a sense of Entombed’s famous “death-’n-roll” sound, as there’s a certain indefinable edge of energy to Coagula’s sound.
I really have only two complaints about Coagula: their lack of music, and the quality of their demo. The former shouldn’t be counted against them—as far as we know, they’re hard at work at some album right now—and the latter remains a bit inescapable, as a new band with (I’m guessing) a limited amount of money can only have so many options for production and the such. It’s not the production quality that I have an issue with, though; for the most part, it’s very good, but it seems dulled at times, leaving out what I feel to be a signifiant chunk of hardcore influence at times. However, this has changed with their latest single, “The Other,” which showcases a better blend of hardcore and metal in both songwriting and production.
Witches With Dicks
I believe that Boston’s Witches With Dicks is still together—their Bandcamp seems to note a breakup in the description for their album Manual, but it was released in 2007, and the band just released a 12” last year called Not Just A Passing Season, not to mention punk blog Cut & Paste giving them a recent nod. Regardless, I needed to talk about this band, because, fuck, is this stuff not only well-written and performed, but fun as hell to listen to. (Also, WWD features members of Sunshine Ward, whom we covered some time ago.)
At the band’s roots are early pop-punk influences like Descendents respectively, but I can also hear very minor influence from other types of hardcore from the last thirty years, especially in the vocals. Your’e going to get your standard group chants and yells, but then there are some yells that sound positively metal, and instrumentation that can sometimes utilize feedback as something more than a frill to put on the end or beginning of a track. Sometimes the guitar parts have a bit of atonality to them in the way that modern metallic hardcore uses, but, again, all these influences are minor at best. Mostly, though, you’re going to hear a lot of Rancid and Descendents in Witches With Dicks’s music.
A caveat, though: it’s probably best to have a dry wit to listen to Witches With Dicks, though. They don’t necessarily push people’s buttons in the way that a band like GWAR does, but there’s an essence of irreverence about them that some people might not totally like. (I mean, “being gross” is an honest-to-God tag on the their Bandcamp.) I personally love this band, though, from their music down to their name.
Although Witches With Dicks isn’t the typical hardcore sound you’d expect today, they do what they do impeccably, and it sounds like they have a lot of fun playing their music. If you like throwback 80s hardcore, this is for you.
We’re going to leave off today with some good ‘ol hardcore that pretty much comes with its own pair of shitkicker boots and tattoos: Brittle Bones.
Like every other band on our list today, Brittle Bones hails from Boston, and plays some serious fucking metallic hardcore. If you weren’t happy with what I’ve been recommending this week, you will be (I assume) extremely satisfied with this band.
So far, Brittle Bones has a self-titled EP, a 2016 demo, and a single, all of which brilliantly showcase their own blend of metalcore, though in different ways. The band’s debut single “Tiamat” is crusty and thrash-filled in all the right places, while their subsequent EP has a little more of a metal edge to it, though that has more to do with the EP’s sludgy production.There’s absolutely hardcore to be heard in that EP—just listen to the track “Decesase” and be amazed at the fucking great vocals and relentless buzzy guitar—but the production itself is a little muddy. (This may be my own bias, as I like really crunchy, treble-influenced hardcore, but take it as you will.) And, finally, the band’s two-track demo seems to fix the latter EP’s production and brings some awesomely crusty guitars into the mix, what with the brutal beatdown of “Hang Me.”
What I perhaps enjoyed most about Brittle Bones was the variety of hardcore they play. They don’t just stick to speedy, thrash-influenced meatlcore, nor do they subscribe solely to slow, trudging beatdowns—it’s a nice mix of everything that makes hardcore such an awesome genre.