Music can be turned to many uses. It can be for pure entertainment, to make you laugh with joy and dance around a room or it can subtly influence your mood. Dig deep down inside you and unlock emotions that you didn’t know you had. Then it can be wielded the way that Stray From The Path use it. Like a sledgehammer to the face.
Hardcore is a simple genre. I love it, but it’s true, and its punk roots are still strong in that regard. However, even simplicity can be tinkered with and over the last few years, there has been an influx of bands who use hardcore as a base. A base from which they can branch out into other genres. A big part of this is melding hardcore with its metallic brothers but not in the vein of the million identikit metalcore bands that roam the planet. Instead, these are actual hardcore bands with actual metal influences.
The best EPs are the ones that leave you unfulfilled. They tease you with greatness and as they finish all you can do is howl for more. With its five songs coming in at under ten minutes, Cycles of Grief, Volume 1: Growth from Australian metallic hardcore band Cursed Earth does exactly that. Although after it has punished you for its entire running time, there’s a chance you’ll be curled in a ball on the floor while you do the begging.
The way to approach a Rancid album in 2017 is very different to the way you would have approached one in 1997. You can no longer expect genius, and you need to figure out exactly what you need to make you happy. It’s not going to be And Out Come The Wolves… and after the disappointment of …Honor Is All We Know and Let The Dominoes Fall, merely good might be enough. A couple of great punk tracks could be all we need.
If you were to guess what a side-project from members of Converge and Cave In was to sound like you might hit on something close to Wear Your Wounds the album released by Jacob Bannon earlier this year. It’s a dark and unsettling piece of music and while you’d struggle to call it heavy in the way you do Converge, it most definitely is. What you wouldn’t expect, is Mutoid Man.
Us Brits do a hell of a lot of things right when it comes to music. Punk, metal and rock and roll, we have it all. However, if there’s one thing that America nails and we don’t, it’s skate punk bands who discover feelings and get all earnest on us. Which sounds like an insult but is intended as nothing of the sort. There’s something about America’s long roads and tiny towns that breed bands like The Wonder Years and The Menzingers that we just don’t have here. Or at least we didn’t.
The ability to tell a story through music is an incredible thing. There are millions of bands on the planet, but the number who can sit down, play a song and take you on a journey is much smaller. It’s a talent that turns good songs into masterpieces. It allows you, as the listener, to connect with them in a way that a good riff just can’t do by itself. And it’s a talent that The Smith Street Band have.
It’s not unfair to say that Body Count have always been a bit of a joke. Not in a ‘look how stupid they are’ way, but in the sense that in the past they’ve written songs about murdering your mum. Ice-T seemed to view his heavy metal side project as a chance to kick off his shoes and have a laugh. Yet, with the world seemingly intent on shooting itself in the guts for a slow and painful death, a politically fueled Body Count suddenly seems like a great idea. And they’ve delivered.
Bursting with punk rock exuberance and gothic theatricality Creeper’s rise over the last few years has been fascinating to watch. From disappearances to Peter Pan inspired tales they’ve found a way to grab the attention of an already fervent fanbase despite not having a full-length album to their name. Which is where the problem comes in. Will all that work fall apart if Eternity, In Your Arms isn’t good enough?
Finding a box to place Can’t Swim in is not easy. On their debut album, Fail You Again, you can hear the sneer of pop-punk, the emotion of Jimmy Eat World and the soul of The Wonder Years. It’s clear they are in that world but what part of it is truly their home is for you to decide.