“I listen to music to get away from politics”. A common comment found on just about every major publication’s share of nearly every band with an actual message outside of “hur hur Cthulu” or “heartbreak is pain and you’re a bitch”. No one takes these people seriously. Especially not Hesitation Wounds. The “supergroup” spat out their lungs on 2016’s Awake for Everything, but on Chicanery, their message is condensed down to a morsel of cultured rage and carefully targeted subjects. These members of some of hardcore and post-hardcores most notorious and well-revered bands walked into a studio for a long weekend and left with this; one seriously stripped-back, immensely catchy message of intolerance for the intolerant.
Chicanery turns the idea of the “supergroup” idea on its head, with the members coming together to deliver a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance of anthemic contemporary punk. “Hellevangelist” pulls no punches in its title or in the track itself, with Bolm spitting poison at the Olsteen’s of the world to the tune of LaCour’s Trap Them-tinged bass guitar. Money-grabbing churches aren’t the only targets of the string-sections driving, scything riffs – the bag of flesh that “Charlatan Fuck” is directed at doesn’t need naming (“A con artist dictator that loves a slogan”) but it’s the baying, slobbering masses that allow someone so unanimously vacant of mind that get a piece of Bolm’s mind too:
“A nation drinks from the stream of shit
Proudly they cheer as they fall for it”
Having never filtered his opinions or feelings with Touché Amoré, Bolm utilised the tornado of sound behind him in magnanimous fashion on Chicanery. It might normally seem a shame to spend so much of a review focusing on the words, but the careful and callous disgust at the climate we all live in demands this attention. “Trending” might feel like low-hanging fruit for a punk musician to pick at in 2019, but few could sum it up as poignant and understated as this. Really though, it should be no surprise to followers of Bolm and his main project that he can turn a well-held opinion into something quite as poetic as this:
“Your protest song is lacking hooks
So here’s some shit, repeat:
As our rights are ripped away
How does it feel to be free?”
These bitesized diatribes of blood, sweat, piss, and vinegar come barreling out of the gate with six chords, a couple of d-beats, and a consistent tone of a group who’ve had enough and demand change. But this isn’t an average punk record. Handled from beginning to end by a combination of Zach Tuch, Kurt Ballou, and Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, the short, stabbing chords and punchy kicks and toms deliver the impact that pushes Bolm’s words to the front. It’s no use having one of the best little punk records of the year if everything sounds like shit. Chicanery has the tell-tale signs of having great engineers involved at every stage of the process – thick tones, vibrant feedback, and it generates a pulse that only really powerful music can.
Chicanery is a heavy right-left combo on the chins of those who seek to profit from other’s ill-fortune and misery, and anyone who Hesitation Wounds set their sights on should be feeling uneasy at the very least. There might be more another hundred aggressive and politically charged records released this year, but, maybe other than SECT‘s latest, this has to be the most gratifying, gratuitously pissed-off performance of the year. Full of hooks and earnest, pissed-off performances this is one record that bleeds truth. And shits d-beats.
Chicanery is available now via Deathwish.