Rotten To The Core – Riff Soup 2: The Pick Squealquel

We’re all shacked up and stuck between staring at a screen, wall, or out of a window so there’s more time than ever to check out some fresh, hot, spicy ‘core. This is why you are here, presumably. From the realms of hard, death, and metal, this week’s entries cover a pretty wide gamut of thick riff action and careful tinkering with established sounds; with some nu techniques rearing their pretty polished head. As always, I can’t promise you’ll love everything in here. One man’s mustard is another man’s mescaline. Or something.

Around The Water Feature/Over The Puddle

Yes, a joke title alluding to Into the Moat. That’s how you know it’s going to be good. The oft-idolised and perenially missed band were miles ahead of their time and many have kept them close to their hearts, chins, and strings. Baltimore’s Under the Pier can represent themselves proudly in any public trial pertaining to this; the young band’s off-kilter (redundant term, who’s got a better one?) and shocking surges of energy translate into some wickedly entertaining mathcore that ItM fans will find warmth and comfort in.

The bitter edges of their Dark Trail Records debut Puff Pieces scrape up against the kind of bass and guitar interplay that Between The Buried and Me were so good at. Pre-Alaska, duh. Lead track “Four Sided Triangle” closely represents Under the Pier’s knack for stuttering grooves and twisty riffs, but tacks on a pretty crunchy barrage at the end too. Not chaotic for the sake of being chaotic, not so straightforward that you’ll lose interest trying to time your head bops along to it. The low-light performance video doesn’t really do much other than being a performance in a low-lit room, but dilapidated factory and run-down warehouse locations are so 2005. All in all, if you ever cared about white belt grindcore then there’s something here for you.

Ein Omelett Mit Schrapnell Bitte

Dortmund’s Lifetaker blew across my feed a few weeks ago but honestly, I scoffed at the album art and breezed over it. What. A. Daft. Cunt. The dark and dingy grinding hardcore of the German outfit is exactly the kind of topical ointment required for the sting of self-isolation – big, grand ideas stuffed into dense little packages of tormented riff-slinging savagery. Like Nails without the posturing and END without the clean edges on everything, this year’s Night Intruder might not look the part, but from end to end I find myself grinning like a pilled-up idiot at the barbarity on show. The production fast becomes an integral part to the listening experience too. A bit messy but a lot maniacal.

Seriously, what a hoot – European’s doing Yank sounds better than the Yank originators? After Moral Bombing blew me away last year and now Lifetaker with their vulgar display of powerviolence, I’m becoming aware I may be missing out on a bunch more German hardcore bands who dip into death metal skull-smashing and grindcore politics. Someone show me the way. I’ll thank you forever.

Friends Close, Open String Chugs Even Closer

I’ll never tire of listening to pissed off people thumping and strumming their instruments with the energised vigour of a thousand trampling elephants. That’s probably why I’ve listened to Foes new track “Turnaround King” about fifty times since it debuted. The Oregonians (?) shape the calamity and cacophony of more chaotic hardcore bands into something a little more recognisable as OG metalcore. Listening again I’m detecting notes of Renounced with a deep, well-rounded finish that has more than a hint of Disembodied to it. Very robust, indeed.

A new EP titled American Violence is out soon, and I’m willing to bet one of my last packets of pasta on it being an absolute gem. Hopefully there are a couple of tracks that push the boat out past the safe harbour of chaotic hardcore, but more of this would also be very welcome. It’s not safe in any regard, but I can’t shake the feeling that there are more shenanigans due from this lot. Looking forward to it, for sure.

The Hardgaze And The Damage Done

I don’t know whether I like or love the KoRn vibes in this next little burst of jagged metalcore you’re about to swallow. Nah, fuck it. I love them. No shame. If Vein brought the wickity-scratchity sounds of early Slipknot back with Errorzone then 156/Silence should do the same for the crack-carnival eerieness of the leather-skinned Bakersfield natives. Lead single “Irrational Pull” has the breathy, rambling lyrics of a young Davis paired with a timeless fuzzy bass and ruthlessly punchy kick and snares, but it’s way, way fucking harder. The accompanying video puts a nice modern date stamp with the double-exposed performance shots, pairing with the equally up to date ‘core on show.

Having followed the band from the earliest recordings online, it’s a trip to see them play with their sound in such a manner. Earlier releases have been more direct in approach, hitting hard but a little bit thin at times. When Irrational Pull arrives in June it’ll be apparent that 156 have thrown safety out the window. Vibrant, dangerous hardcore for the disenfranchised and beyond.

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The longer the note, the more dread