If there is anything the recent events in this world have taught us is that it can be a GRIM place. It’s far from the movies we saw as kids where the hero saved the day, or some monstrous villain was slain, and peace was restored to the land. The reality of it all is that life is a rollercoaster and the highs are exhilarating while the lows can be downright miserable and feel like they outweigh everything else that surrounds it. That is the picture that hardcore band, Mutually Assured Destruction or M.A.D., want to paint on their debut EP, Fever Dream.
The band is no stranger to hardcore and is almost a supergroup of sorts with the various members all coming from the vibrant Richmond, Virginia scene. Bands which include Break Away, Down to Nothing, Fire & Ice and Bracewar to name a few. Front man Ace Stallings is embedded in the scene as a local promoter for shows and one of the organizers of the mighty United Blood Fest, which was unfortunately postponed for the aforementioned world events.
As previously mentioned, this is a dark record lyrically. There are no messages of positivity or unity here. These are the words of someone who is at the end of their rope and crying out for help. The song “Exhale” on the back half almost reads like the children’s prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. But as the old saying goes: “It is always darkest before the dawn”. When you rise up from the darkness, you use that knowledge to propel you forward and make you a better human being. That may not be portrayed here, but Ace wants to make it very clear that ending it all is not the answer.
Continuing their trend of not sticking to traditional hardcore stereotypes, the band plays music akin to hardcore-adjacent bands like Life of Agony and Only Living Witness. Make no mistake, this is heavy music. Vocally, Ace alternates between a traditional hardcore bark and a howl that could be mistaken for Glen Danzig. The band even dabbles in the Danzig sound with slow, gothic passages alternating with traditional hardcore breakdowns. They even give us a solo on a couple of tracks all within the two minute time span on a majority of the tracks. This is what makes M.A.D. so unique in that they pack so much into a small window and make it work. They seamlessly transition from one to the other and the production is stellar. It doesn’t sound forced and at the same time sounds like a breath of fresh air in the hardcore scene.
The EP is only 6 tracks and 16 minutes in length, but I guarantee you that by the end of album you will be doing windmill kicks in your living room while in quarantine practicing for opportunity to see them live. It’s out now on Edgewood Records.