Welcome to another week of No Heroes in New England, where we give some cred to the bands in New England’s hardcore underground. These musicians are up and coming, and represent the next generation in what is looking to be an awesome group of hardcore musicians. While the definition of “hardcore” is up for debate, all it means here is lots of anger and rage and beatdowns galore. Enjoy!
We’re going to start off today with a bands that probably fits most in the “traditional” hardcore punk sound, Rare Form. From New Haven, Connecticut, this band only has one, self-titled EP out, released near the end of July, that makes for an intriguing listen, mostly because of its oddity in sound.
I noted earlier that it fits in the traditional view of hardcore punk, and that’s true—the singer (known only as Kayla) yells, but doesn’t go into full-on growls, and on the whole the instrumentation keeps very much in a DCHC and Riot grrrl type of format—but there are some tracks that make it obvious that Rare Form is playing with the formula a lot. Elements of the title track, for example, have a sort of beatdown vibe to it, and the drums and overall feel of the closer “Not Ur Baby” exhibit some minor post-punk influences. (To be fair, though they’re all blended with that normal sound, so nothing sounds too out of the ordinary.)
It’s also cool to see a modern hardcore band primarily composed of women (according to their Bandcamp, that is); it isn’t something that’s unheard of, what with the entire Riot grrrl movement blowing up in the 90s, but it’s still not as popular as it should be. There’s a lot of rage and anger in Rare Form’s music that relates to feminism and women in the hardcore scene, and they do it pretty well.
If I have one complaint, though, it’s the band’s songwriting. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a nugget of something wonderful in this band that keeps me listening to it, but it hasn’t been as fully realized as it could be (probably because of the band’s relatively-new status). The riffs can feel somewhat cut-and-paste at times, and the lyrics get a bit too repetitive for my taste. (If you don’t believe me, check out the track “Not Ur Baby,” which, despite those post-punk sounds I described earlier, basically repeats the same two stanzas over and over again.) Again, though, I wouldn’t recommend something in this column without feeling like it deserves it. Rare Form has some serious spirit that lives up to their namesake and then some. Its Riot grrrl all the way, but it’s their take on genre, and that interpretation is worth a lot in my opinion.
We’re going slightly up north with this band, and we’re losing the hardcore punk for more of a metalcore flavor with extra emphasis on the metal. Gator King is a band that’s been around for the last six years or so, hailing from Southbridge, Massachusetts. Similar to last week’s Jagged Visions, Gator King plays some deliciously heavy metalcore, influenced slightly by thrash metal. The guitars have a certain chunkiness to it that I can’t get enough of, and the band’s vocalist puts enough of a hardcore spirit into his parts that you know this isn’t some typical metal record. And, fuck, just look at the cover for their latest release (I believe it’s an EP), Existence Will Only Forget—if that isn’t a good indication of the brutality you’re going to experience, I don’t know what is.
I can’t begin to describe how much I like how Gator King creates their own sound by taking bits and pieces of metal and hardcore. The guitars, while prone to some pretty crushing breakdowns, also have some great riffs that feel like they’re influenced by genres like groove metal. Some tracks—“Burned Alive” is probably the best example—have a distinct thrash influence permeating throughout most of the track. But despite all of that, it has a nice beatdown feel to it, like a slightly-heavier, less crispy-sounding Hatebreed.
The band’s lyricism is something of interest as well. While I enjoyed Rare Form’s lyrics as well, I found these to be just a bit more intense and magnetic. For example, the track “No One Was Listening” screams politics and change, but it isn’t as in depth as a lot of politically- and socially-influenced ; the band seems to realize that the issues that cut through society today are in fact part of larger philosophical questions relating to human nature.
Although the band already has what I believe to be a full-length—2014’s Martial Law—it’s not quite the same, taking more influence from hardcore punk than Existence Will Only Forget. I wouldn’t mind seeing the band putting something more with this new sound, because you can’t beat hardcore when it’s done right.
No Way Out
Prepare yourself for some serious beatdown with this next band, because this is music that heads get beaten to and riots are started with. Massachusetts’s No Way Out plays some pretty fucking brutal music, all with a distinct critique of modern society, whether it’s talking about mental health (“Locked Away”) or the issues with the wealth gap (among other problems) in America (Pharoah’s Fury), all of which emanate from their latest EP Corrupt Corrupted Corruption.
Like Gator King, the lyricism isn’t hugely detailed—it’s not like the band specifically names any politicians or laws that cause these issues—and I can’t say I don’t like that; it adds a sort of ubiquity to each song’s meaning, as if it could apply to any country, not just the United States, and it shows that while politics and social justice are important to No Way Out that it’s not the end-all, that their music nonetheless plays an important part of who they are.
And, shit, is this music good. I can’t say that it’s pushing any huge boundaries or going places that hardcore bands have never gone, but if you just want to put your fist through a wall, this is the perfect soundtrack to score that action. (Note: neither Heavy Blog nor No Way Out are responsible for drywall repair and/or hospital bills if you decide to do that. Sorry.)