It’s hard to imagine UKHC without the internet. To be fair, it’s hard to imagine anything without the internet anymore. Underground movements, in particular, though, thrive on its members ability to communicate. Remove Bandcamp, Twitter, forums, message boards, Facebook and MySpace and one begins to wonder just how the hell did we ever know about anything? I started to listen to hardcore bands and go to hardcore shows at the tail end of the 90’s. I have to strain my fragile mind to remember back to a time when we relied on flyers left on the counters of record stores; relied on finding new bands by checking the thanks lists on old CDs. Reading shitty zines cover to cover and looking out for the bands you’d read about while flicking through distro boxes. You’d go to shows just because the venue was putting them on and discover your new favourite band supporting the main act. I remember real-life word of mouth. Human beings actually speaking out loud to one another. It’s amazing that it used to spread as much as it did. It certainly speaks for the indelible nature of UKHC. Imagine having a conversation with a stranger in 2014. Thank god for the internet. If it didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t know about the following 6 awesome bands…
SIX: Renounced – The Melancholy We Ache (Carry The Weight Records)
Renounced sound more like a band from Florida in 1998 than England in 2014, such is the precision with which they nail their take on turn-of-the-millennium US metalcore. The Melancholy We Ache is an astonishing record not just for how perfectly they recreate the highs of bands like Poison The Well or Red Roses For A Blue Lady, but for how much passion, energy and sincerity they inject into every second of its running time. To listen to it is to hear this sound made fresh; Renounced aren’t copying, they’re resurrecting. Whether delivering bone-crunching nastiness on ‘Mistakes That Dig Graves’, allowing you to wander through the serene beauty of ‘Joshua Commanding The Sun To Stand Still’ or smashing the two styles together to dizzying effect, Renounced remain gripping at all times. A multi-personality record that is technically accomplished and perfectly paced. Not bad for a debut.
FIVE: Outrage – Eigengrau (The CC)
Hard, hard, hard, HARD. Outrage might not push too many boundaries with their debut 7” Eigengrau, but what they might lack in progression, they certainly make up for with aggression. I’ve been to their hometown of Cardiff, and it’s a damn fine place, but if you were to base your opinion of it on the racket that Outrage produce, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s like Mega City One, where baseball bat beatings are compulsory education. While they draw heavy influence from the grimness of early Integrity and the muscular brutality of Think I Care, with ravenous guitar chugs and thundering beatdowns that could crack the sky, they are far more than just a sum of their parts. This is a masterclass in how to make music sound like violent retribution.
FOUR: The Flex – Wild Stabs In The Dark (Milk Run Records)
Chances are, you’ll have heard of The Flex by now. Following their mammoth, 44-date USA Invasion tour with fellow UK punks Violent Reaction and a subsequent signing to Lockin’ Out Records, these lads from LS4 (that’s Leeds, in case you’re not hot on your UK postcodes) are now known far and wide. Not bad for a band originally formed for a laugh by a bunch of seasoned hardcore musicians as a chance to play unfamiliar instruments. Widespread attention is a just reward for being one of the UK’s finest hardcore bands; a band who trim away all the fat to leave a no-frills, 80’s infused hardcore battering of the finest order. While some bands would be lambasted for delivering a new set of tracks that sounds exactly the same as what we’ve heard from them before, The Flex are so uniquely excellent at what they do that ‘Wild Stabs In The Dark’ (their debut LP following a run of cassettes and a 7 inch) is so good because it is precisely that. They are the sound of bricks through windows; of police sirens in the distance; of total chaos and disorder. And you wouldn’t want them any other way.
THREE: Cholera – Plagiarised Hope (COF Records)
This startling second EP from the North-East’s most hateful exports, Cholera, is nihilism incarnate. There are many things that can be said, but I want to focus on one thing in particular in the hopes of painting a picture. Halfway through Plagiarised Hope comes the track ‘Anonymous.’ It’s Cholera in a nutshell: disgusting, diseased, impossibly bleak. It seems to decay as it goes on; starting with a frantic punk outburst with deafening blankets of double bass carnage, before a mid section dip in pace reveals a sinister, black metal-tinged anti-melody that cuts through, high notes squealing like a dying animal. It begins to wind down as a vulgar, electronic humming bleeds in; a yawning, mechanical drone that grows and deafens, like a downtuned air-raid siren until all that’s left is a rattling, buzzing, bloodclot of noise that chokes the instruments out as it all just collapses in on itself. It’s the soundtrack to England’s ruin. And it’s a part of what is without a doubt one of the most vicious records this little island will produce, not just this year, but for a long time.
TWO: Breaking Point – Set To Burn (Carry The Weight Records)
Here’s a fact – hardcore bands often struggle to record and release an LP that successfully captures either the energy they can pack into a 7” or the dominance they can demonstrate on stage. It’s not always the case, but an increased running time can reveal a severe lack of ideas. Not true, however, in the case of Breaking Point (at this point 5 years into a prolific run as one of UKHC’s most respected bands) and their debut LP Set To Burn. Expertly transferring their dominance of the stage onto record while simultaneously showing off a breadth of ideas AND demonstrating admirable progression, it’s a record that is a success on every conceivable front. Enormous chugs, rousing lyrics, metallic shredding, defiant straight edge aggression, nods to UKHC bands of yore (see the track ‘Cold Snap’ especially) and more fodder for the pit than is presumably safe to consume. A hardcore record for the ages, mark these words.
ONE: Turbochong – Disrespectful (Yamabushi Recordings)
Including a band as frivolous as Turbochong on a list already limited to six entries will likely piss someone off, as I could have included some other Band Of Profound Importance, but A) this is my list and B) if you can point me towards another UKHC release this year as obnoxiously feral as this one then … well, I thank you in advance. Turbochong features members of similarly negligent bands Cease To Exist and Ewige Schlangenkraft, and creates buzzsaw punk that makes Hoax seem like One Direction. The whole thing lasts about 30 seconds, sounds like a junkie coughing their guts up and also name checks a certain other UKHC vocalist in what I assume is a burn of some kind. Are they creating some pit beef, live on record? It’s hard to tell, to be fair; Turbochong don’t seem to give a fuck about anything other than making music that is about as pleasant as swallowing bleach. What more do you want?