It’s time to spin that cap forwards, plug in the HM-2, and pour one out for all the guys in their 40’s still playing pop-punk to crowds of people twenty-five years their younger. They should know better. Yes, it’s time again for me to guide you by hand through a quagmire of blackened ‘core and sludgy grooves, taking time to stop and appreciate the sights and sounds of some seriously rotten noise. We’re gonna look at some underground blackened hardcore bubbling up under the surface in the American Midwest, a spot of pissed off metalcore (OG, no As I Lay Crying worship here) raining down from the Frozen Northern reaches of Canada and a Turkish band cutting between math, sludge, and mayhem. Read all about it.
Sachiel Aren’t A Christian Band, Much To My Surprise
I was never into anime outside of having watched Akira and Ghost In The Shell in my youth, so Sachiel‘s chosen name and the opening track on new cut Return To Nothing had me convinced they were one of the few Christcore bands I could stomach. Thanks to the guiding hand of one Slimeman Handspanker, I could go about my day happily blasting through this twenty-minute wrecking ball of supercharged hardcore without suddenly speaking in tongues or bursting into flames at the sight of a gay couple getting married. If, like me, Neon Genesis Evangelion is something you only know from early YouTube AMVs for Children of Bodom tracks, don’t worry – Sachiel might be named after an angel but their buzzsaw beatdowns and bullish blasts of hell are far from cherubic.
If you can get through the first real track (“Lilith’s Catalyst” dramatic voiceover had me convinced this was a God Squad release) without going “ow” then you’re obviously a much harder cunt than I. “Absolute Terror” doesn’t exhaust Sachiel’s toolbox right away, but you can fuck me in half with a sledgehammer if this isn’t one of the most intense opening tracks to a release you’ll hear all year. You can’t get away from the vocals, delivered with all the piss and vinegar of someone not entirely happy with, well, anything. The hoarse shouts are distorted and pushed right up front alongside the glass-crunching guitars and wonderfully reverbed snare. Seriously, when things slow down in the second half just before the piercing curls of feedback snake through your spine, that thing absolutely booms. I’m 99% certain the drums are programmed, but that’s beside the point. Sachiel sound more terrifying than the prospect of a gargantuan angel filling the sky.
Return To Nothing blows past every stop sign on the way to Armageddon, stopping intermittently to pick up a dark passenger here and there. Call it blackened hardcore, false grind, whatever you want. Just make sure you’re sharing this with anyone who craves urgency and unflinching aggression in their music. Wonderfully bleak and brash stuff from the Great Lakes.
Mortality Rate Light The Touchpaper, Set 1,000 Windmilling Kids Alight
Imagine my delight when I discovered a metallic hardcore band had formed in my quiet hometown in the north of Scotland. Maybe Inverness would finally have a band to help put it on the map of musical relevance. Now, imagine my disgust when their version of metallic hardcore actually sounds like Counterparts, without the parts that make them any good. No groove, no heart, no fucking chance. My heartache didn’t last long, thankfully, as someone sent me towards Calgary’s Mortality Rate and their latest pumped-up batch of genuine metalcore madness. Fiery and full of beans, this ain’t your friends’ hardcore band who could have played Warper “that one time”.
You Were The Gasoline has me all sorts of juiced. This is the kind of hardcore that has grunting, anti-social grumps leaping from their seats at the bar to jump on stage and cartwheel into the gap at the front of the pit; eschewing personal safety for the grand prize of a dizzying rush of endorphins. The d-beats are plentiful and the tight, thick riffing from the guitars and bass (killer tone, sounds like Satan purring during a back rub) bounces from section to section in a manner more progressive than anything labelled hardcore would have you believe possible. Each track moves between different modes of mayhem, some leaning more on shoulder-popping grooves (“Selfish Thieves”) while more direct displays focus on gang-vocals and blunt, spirited messages – “You Were The Gasoline” wins snarky lyric of the year:
“You’ll never take me alive
I won’t run and hide
I can’t fucking die
Trust me, I’ve tried”
Don’t be alarmed if you leave this record with a thin sheet of sweat covering you. The thrashing, bullying stomp and swagger of this young band gets me hot and bothered too. Like Sachiel above, Mortality Rate fuck around with their own concept of what hardcore really is. In this case, thrash and traditional hardcore align with 90’s metalcore in the pursuit of getting people on their feet and into the pit. More power to them for it too, I’d throw a failed spinkick or two at their show.
Pourbon Pour Style Over Sludge With A Twist
One from the always on topic Mathcore Index suggestions, Turkey’s Pourbon offer up the darkest offering from this article, lavishing dissonance and panic-inducing rhythms on top of truly vitriolic hardcore. There are a few very specific bands that one could compare this lot to, but I’ll leave that for the next paragraph. I don’t have anything smart or clever to include in this introduction as I’m pretty uncultured on anything Turkish outside of who wears which colour football strip in Istanbul. If there’s a flourishing hardcore/mathcore scene in the country that I’m not aware of, someone please put me in my place.
Yes. There are clear Gaza/Cult Leader vibes on the self-titled debut from Pourbon, but there are Gaza/Cult Leader vibes on near enough every off-kilter sludge band that dips in and out of mathcore, and there are a fair few of them kicking around. The unsettling, almost out of tune guitars that open Pourbon give way to low-slung riffs that ooze tar and shit tone, resonating in an unholy manner fit for deviants all over to lap up heartily. “Munch Louder, Lose It More” might not be the easiest title to grasp, but the bottom fret and open string riff that charges out of its cold open could flatten a building; all simple stuff used incredibly effectively and effortlessly heavily in the delivery. KEN mode and Mastodon fans might have their ears pick up during “Regular Shiekh Pt.1 (He Believes In Doors)” and “Now You Find The Bullets In Your Guts, Boss…” respectively.
Grindy, sludge-filled mathcore with a progressive mindset and more elaborate track titles than the MySpace emo band you told your friends you didn’t listen to. That’s how I’d sum up Pourbon for the purpose of a pull-out quote, so there.