Haram’s debut EP What Do You See? is out now on Toxic State Records and it’s even angrier and grittier than their demo! Punk is very much alive in New York City right now, especially for those being profiled by the police since the NYC bombings occurred over the past weekend. Islamophobia is alive and well, and among those fighting the good fight is Haram’s frontman, Nader Habibi, whose family moved to New York in the 80’s to flee the Lebanese-American war.
Haram has really made a name for themselves in the NYC scene, and it’s really no surprise given how intentional everything is. For example, this EP was released on the Monday after the weekend bombings (September 19th). Last year, their demo was also released in September. Haram’s lyrics are entirely in Arabic. They played a benefit show on 9/11 of this year with Sheer Mag and Hank Wood And The Hammerheads for The Hamilton-Madison House Child Care Center, which helps kids in the China Town / LES area. Haram is truly at the forefront in a time and place where they rightfully belong, and are only going stronger.
I fell in love with this release before knowing any of the backstory, because it is very much in the style of 80’s Japanese hardcore (GISM, Disclose, The Stalin, The Comes, etc). The tracks on What Do You See? are shorter than the 3-4 minute songs on their demo, much louder, and much more intense. Even the artwork on the EP has a more Arabic influenced appearance than the Japanese influenced art on their demo.
What Do You See? opens with the track “Blood.” Nader chants over a frantic pulse in the intro and outro to the song. My personal favorite part of the entire EP is the Middle Eastern influenced guitar from Mike at the 53 second mark. There actually are Middle Eastern undertones in the guitar’s sound throughout the entire EP, but it’s a bit more subtle in the other tracks. “Put It In Your Head” has my favorite bassline. The first half of the song is very fast paced, then it slows down and finishes with Nader’s agonized vocals. “The Insane,” on the other hand, is fast-paced throughout the entirety of the song and Nader vocals are particularly grimy.
The longest track is also the last: “What Is This Hell?” For the first thirty seconds it actually starts off slower than the rest of the songs with tribal drumming, almost post-punk sounding, dreamy guitar, and a danceable bass line. Suddenly, Nader’s voice punches through and the music gets faster. The interludes even have a doomy, bleak sound that gives the song a lot of imagery. It really puts an impression on you and finishes the album nicely. Available now through Bandcamp!