Rotten to the Core – Panic! Chords at the Basement Venue

Rotten To The Core has always been a home for math and metalcore that doesn’t reek of HM-2 and blast beats, that’s what Grind My Gears is for. That doesn’t mean that anything included in this feature can’t hit just as hard, if not harder, than the grind and violence bands included in those articles. This week is a funny one, with some positively playful (and still devilish) mathcore from New York’s wild math scene, and two bands with modern messages coming on the back of contemporary takes on the long-lost Ferret Records golden era. Think of this as one of those “try not to headbang” challenges. You will lose.

Uh, Waiter? There Appears To Be A Riff In My Soup?

With members spread across some of the city’s finest underground acts, Juan Bond‘s open-handed slap of jazzy breaks and crunchy riffs is as extravagant and it is grounded. I’ve gushed about Detach The Islands enough, and with members also in Semaphore and probably a handful of other bands I’m yet to be delighted by, Juan Bond work in the less chaotic, but equally as creative world of mathrock; but with the same crashing attack of mathcore. It really is remarkable how each of these connected bands exist with only a slight, enjoyable overlap of sounds. Case in point today – a studio version of the band’s jerky, staccato-heavy “Water Waiter”.

Debuted over with the gents at Mathcore Index, this studio video really captures the light playfulness of the band. Blending a Glassjaw smoothness with the harsher textures of Dillinger or Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, “Water Waiter” has this charged up drive pushing through each section, with the electric violin (viola maybe? I’m uncultured) playing off the guitar and bass with total ease and creating a fresh texture in a genre that can stagnate quickly. The screamo energy from the vocals is infectious and when the “big riff” section kicks in at the end there’s a real 00’s metalcore vibe, again the electric strings taking a big responsibility in the expansive finale. It’s weird music for hardcore kids who don’t know they need weirder music in their lives, and for those who find solace in the weird, wonderful world of jazzy segues and crunchy breakdowns, a perfect no-hitter.

Three Cheers for Sweet Rev-ACAB

Californian’s The Arson Choir might be from literally the other side of the country, but their rowdy, powerful hardcore belongs in the realm of Buffalo stalwarts Every Time I Die. With the veterans ready to put out their newest record this year, it’s fitting that there are some younger bands ready to step in and make sure that the next-gen of dirty, mathy hardcore acts are being represented too. Cue, “Revenge, My Love” – the first track from The Arson Choir’s upcoming EP. Again, try not to bang your head.

Recorded before the recent global focus on police brutality in the States, in particular, “Revenge, My Love” is an ode to vocalist Phil Penegar’s ancestors. A audibly aggressive ode, at that, with a furious Ferret Records vibe that you’d expect fans of ETID, 36 Crazyfists, and even more typically ‘core bands like Hatebreed to get behind. With a final scream that rings out over the slowly appearing names of the victims of police brutality, the track lingers in the air and definitely deserves a second and third listen. Evoking the power of the people taking to the streets, it’s a good time when taken on its own merit, but a far more engaging listen when looking at it against current moral and political circumstances.

A (Scarlet) Love Letter

Not too much to say about this next one, other than harking about my love for Ferret Records era metalcore/mathcore. The members of TEETH (ex-ETID, Hundred Suns, etc) must have grown up around the same era, with a lot of those bands close to the hearts as well as their homes. This new single could very well be an Acacia Strain track from about a decade ago, but it has a very clinical 2020 sheen to it, even with it being the closest thing to a Scarlet track I’ve heard since, well, Scarlet. The staccato kick pattern that runs right through “Writhe” hits harder than a late-fee to the last ever Blockbuster, eventually giving in to the track’s apparent desire to turn into a beatdown anthem.

It’s big and dumb and a lot of fun. Why the fuck wouldn’t you listen to this? It’s literally everything good about modern metalcore with ZERO of the downsides. Plus it has a 2005 stank to it that you just don’t find every day. It’s like listening to some really obtuse deathcore but you don’t have to feel ashamed for listening to it after the fact. That’s a win in my book.

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The longer the note, the more dread