New Zealand’s Anatgonist A.D. (or simply Antagonist, as they were known then) were among the many semi-local hardcore bands my friends and I would make public transport pilgrimages to see every other weekend, during my formative years. What started as a quasi-ironic appreciation of the ridiculous, flatly-delivered moshcalls – including, but not limited to: “this life is fucking shit!”, “go vegan!” and “keep your dicks in your pants scumbags!” – that populated their early EPs quickly grew to genuine appreciation of the band’s handle on hardcore.

Things took a similar turn, more recently, when I caught them supporting modern heavy hitters Thy Art is Murder and Alpha Wolf last year. They absolutely leveled the place, and were by far the best band of the night. Shortly after that, the band furthered their return with a couple of brilliant singles, which have now culminated in the release of the outstanding Through Fire EP. Although Antagonist made some evolutionary headway across their previous records, Through Fire is pure back-to-basics, no-frills hardcore, built around a blunt message of animal liberation and social rebellion. Tracks like “A.P.M.D.”, “No Justice” and the visceral “Pure Fear” are among some of the best straight ahead hardcore songs you could ask for.

Delving back into the band’s catalogue has proved similarly fruitful. “Wolves & Cowards” from their debut full-length, We Are the Dead (2008), is still an absolute rager, while their most recent record, 2015’s delightfully titled Haunt Me As I Roam, is a surprisingly mature offering featuring high-profile guest-spots from the likes of Architects‘ Sam Carter, Comeback Kid‘s Andrew Neufeld, Deez Nuts‘ J. J. Peters and The Amity Affliction‘s Ahren Stringer, along with artwork by Converge‘s Jacob Bannon. Even the frankness of 2012’s once-neglected Nothing From No One is proving far more refreshing now than at the time of its release. In spite of their humble beginnings, Antagonist have grown into masters of their craft, and there’s wealth of fantastic material with their name on it waiting for new and lapsed fans alike to jump into.

Through Fire is out now, and can be purchased through Antagonist A.D.’s bandcamp page.