Hello and welcome to this week’s Foundation Vinyl Newsletter! And there is plenty to enjoy…
- Featured New Arrivals from Isolant, Savageheads, ICD10, and Consolation
- The Lost Art of the Spoken Word
- Shows and Tours
- Coming Soon
Featured New Arrivals
Thunderous industrial hardcore from Boston that fiercely reimagines it’s early 1990s’ forebearers.
Pulverisingly heavy doom-laden riffs are overlain with hauntingly dissonant melodies while the rhythm section lends both crushing power and more reflective expressions in equal measure. Meanwhile, roared vocals explore themes of dystopian desolation and isolation. And as with the original industrial innovators of Godflesh and early Pitchshifter, the sonic landscape is one that draws heavily on 1980s UK crust and hardcore, which Isolant then skilfully blend with more darkly ambient soundscapes akin to Scorn.
‘The wolves no longer need to wear the sheep’s clothing anymore, the rich can serve the rich’.
Rasping vocals are spat out venomously as blisteringly infectious UK82 inspired riffage throws down the gauntlet and it is all held in lockstep by a rigorously disciplined yet inherently fluid rhythm section. An album that literally grabs you by the throat from the outset and never relents as it rabidly explores themes of media folk devils, political corruption, police violence, and military service. Imagine Suffer-era Bad Religion with the aggression dialled up and the melody stripped back, and you have as good a yardstick as any. A 17-year hiatus has not diluted their rage one bit.
‘Illusions of choice to pacify, the mass’s total complacency, you choose the boot, that steps on your neck’.
Debut LP from Philadelphia’s ICD10 and one that deploys the experience of its stalwart members to strikingly powerful effect. A raging hardcore base is skilfully blended with more anarcho-punk leanings to brilliant effect, with reverb drenched vocals jaggedly interplaying with dense riffage and a frantically off-kilter rhythm section. Everything is propelled forward by a seething aggression and politically nuanced lyrics that address democratic disenfranchisement, the prison-industrial complex, and the wider financialisation of society.
‘Widespread poverty, gaslit society, people go hungry, told they’re greedy, they stole our pasts, they’re stealing our future’.
Rage fuelled, noise infused mid-tempo hardcore that delivers desperate, raw vocals across discordant, groove-laden guitars, underpinned by a powerfully strident rhythm section. It brings to my mind Tremors filtered through a more contemporary Scandinavian lens of say Draümar and Vidro. Politically charged themes sit alongside more personally reflective lyrics, although a clear linkage of causation ensures an overarching cohesion.
The Lost Art of the Spoken Word
A few weeks back, I touched on the recent Napalm Death / Dropdead show in London, and Barney Greenway’s courageous (and surprisingly successful) attempt to deliver the Napalm Death set while confined to a chair with a broken ankle. Another aspect of the gig that stayed with me was that, of course, Greenway and Dropdead’s Bob Otis are two of life’s great in-between song speakers. Very different in style – the former a cheerful raconteur, the latter rather more deadpan – but both committed to articulating their thoughts during a show. That said, the pleasure I derived from Dropdead thematically grouping their songs is more my problem than yours…
This all served to remind me how this type of interplay has become something of a dying art. Many shows now flash by often without pause, and while band-crowd interaction remains high, it tends not to take the form of between song dialogue. Does this matter? In many respects, no. Good shows remain vibrant collective experiences. However, I can’t help but feel that communicating ideas and shared values remains an important part of a hardcore show. And while the diminishing of this does not necessarily compromise gigs, I can’t help but feel that when it does happen, it enhances the live experience and reinforces why we are all there.
In his highly recommended book The Poetry of Punk: The Meaning Behind Punk Rock and Hardcore Lyrics, Gerfried Ambrosch (guitarist with Carnist and Momentum) explores the centrality of lyrics to the hardcore community. This stems in part from the explicit function of the lyrics to share political ideas, to challenge social conventions, and to help nourish community identity. It also reflects what is referred to as the ‘inarticulate articulacy’ of the lyrical delivery, its distortion is a physical representation of dissent. And as Ambrosch explores: ‘It’s important for the audience to know that there is semantic substance behind the noise, because a big part of the connection they make with the artist and each other, especially at live shows, is lyrical’.
In the often-febrile environment of the live show, I have always felt that between song dialogue serves the same purposes as the lyric sheet at home, strengthening the communal bonds being forged. So, why has it seemingly fallen out fashion?
For some bands, I suspect it is simply that they don’t feel that the nature of their live delivery affords time for such interactions. Take the blistering delivery of Permission – I’m not sure their vocalist would have had the physical capacity to speak such was the frenetic nature of their live performances. Or perhaps it could fracture the efforts of a band who seek to create a more all-encompassing atmosphere.
For others, I sometimes sense that there is a latent tendency to not want to be seen to be preaching, least of all to the converted. I must admit that this is a view for which I have less sympathy. While no one enjoys being lectured, the very underpinnings of hardcore are political. That is not to argue that it is by any means a coherent political ideology. But it can be convincingly argued, as Ambrosch does, that ‘most punks hold “progressive” – culturally liberal, socially egalitarian – views’. And while this progressivism spans anti-capitalism / DIY ethics, social equality, and animal rights, it would be wrong to assume that even within punk communities that these issues are necessarily understood (and practised) with equal clarity. In any case, the aim is not to tell people what to think – but rather to ferment debate and encourage people to investigate issues for themselves.
The final contributory factor I suspect is confidence. I speak as someone who has complete admiration for anyone prepared to throw themselves into the limelight on a stage. It clearly requires a level of confidence (or at least an ability to conquer fear!) that I would find challenging to muster. But to speak publicly issues about social and political concern, even to a sympathetic and engaged audience, does demand a particular level of self-confidence. Thinking of the frontpersons who have perhaps most engaged me over the years – Greg Bennick (Trial), Damien Moyle (As Friends Rust, Culture), Sean Murphy (Verse), and Dan Yemin (Paint It Black) – there was certainly an impressive level of eloquence and empathy in evidence. And when you consider the professions of Bennick (a motivational speaker) and Yemin (an adolescent psychotherapist), there perhaps lie some important clues. These are, clearly, both individuals who thrive on human interaction and who are not afraid to explore issues publicly, which may in turn speak to their skills as a frontperson for a hardcore band.
It could be that levels and types of on-stage dialogue are cyclical in much the same way as the music being played – emphasis changes, evolves, and reinvents itself. But I do hope that it’s not lost completely. As with the lyrics themselves, such interactions build connections and encourage reflections, which is never a bad thing.
Shows and Tours
This section lays no claims to being a definitive listing! It is simply gigs coming up in London that catch my eye and that I think people who read this newsletter might be interested in. I will always try and highlight where a show forms part of a wider UK tour.
9th July End It, Spy, Combust, Initiate plus more (New Cross Inn)
10th July Fuse, Dregs, Stingray, Antagonizm plus more (New River Studios)
18th July Doldrey, Harrowed plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
18th July Powerplant plus support (Moth Club / UK Tour)
19th July Bleakness, Finit plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
19th July Diploid, Casing plus more (New River Studios / UK Tour)
20th July Iron Deficiency, Sentient plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
21st July Jotnarr, Wreathe, Cady (Bird’s Nest)
22nd July Kohti Tuhoa, T.S. Warspite, Antagonizm plus more (New River Studios)
24th July Faim, No Man, Dying For It plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
26th July Current Affairs plus support (The Lexington / UK Tour)
4th August Plastics, TS Warspite, Unjust plus more (New Cross Inn / Gag are to be rescheduled for next year)
5th August Knuckledust, Nine Bar, Fifty Caliber plus more (New Cross Inn)
8th August Sacred Reich plus support (The Underworld)
13th August DRI plus support (The Underworld)
14th August Chat Pile, Petbrick, Dawn Ray’d (The Dome)
18th August Cloud Rat, Bad Breeding, Golpe (Studio 9294)
9th September Big Brave, Dawn Ray’d, Ragana, Jessica Moss (Bush Hall)
14th – 17th September Static Shock Weekend (tbc)
15th September Cinder Well plus support (Moth Club)
3rd October As Friends Rust, Don’t Sleep plus more (Boston Music Room)
Geld ‘Currency // Castration’ 12-inch (Relapse)
I Recover ‘Until I Wake Again’ 12-inch (Crew Cuts)
Poison Ruin ‘Harvest’ 12-inch (Relapse)
Rank ‘Brave New Lows’ 12-inch (Scene Report)
Unified Action ‘Unified Action’ 12-inch (Scene Report)