Let’s crack open another can (make sure it’s a can) of cheap beer and discuss the new band (or extension of?) from members of Duck Duck Goose. Pollution People take their name from the last song on the last release by DDG. If you’re familiar with the Ducks, perfect, because Pollution People the band pick up right where “Pollution People” the song left off: dirty metalcore with signs of maturity.
If you weren’t aware of the Ducks before they disbanded (went on hiatus?), I don’t want the word “metalcore” to turn you off. Sure, they have some similarities to the genre staples; Norma Jean, or even early Cave In, type riffs recorded with the stripped down dregginess of The Chariot, a few southern fried chords ala Every Time I Die with ETID’s crisp concise drumming. Sometimes they sound like the link between Eighteen Visions’ Until the Ink Runs Out and Vanity, you know, before 18V started embarrassing themselves by becoming a hair metal band masquerading as a grunge band. What I mean is 18V still had that metal feel while beginning to experiment with a more traditional rock n’ roll sound and James Hart started singing while turning his scream into a higher pitched yell. That’s what you can expect singer David Ribera to bring to the forefront of Pollution People. If you saw a picture of David after listening to this band, you’d swear his entire torso must be made of lungs. Of course his smaller stature probably lends to the higher pitch, but the ferocity with which he screams and belts out the notes of his now refined singing voice is colossal.
And it’s definitely the singing elements of their brand new EP Future Trash that stand out as the most memorable, though still not the main focus of their chaotic sound. You might have heard flashes of it on DDG’s Off Yourself, but as Pollution People, the band has found a way to write around and highlight these segments. Mixed with the turmoil of their heavier moments the new EP does feel like a sort of metalcore At the Drive-In. Now, don’t expect anthems with high tenor rants, the record just has that ATDI impression of an inkling of sanity surrounded by unhinged energy. Pollution People are a little rough and unfocused at times, but the EP (and name change) show a maturation process and that these guys are tapping into their own sound. Hopefully they’ll stick around for a while and build upon their new endeavor.
Mitch Hedberg once said (or probably repeated the joke many times, actually), “Because of acid I now know that butter is way better than margarine. I saw through the bullshit.” Now, I’m not suggesting the guys in Von Wolfe are on acid, but if they were it would make sense because they have drafted up a blueprint of bullshitless southern hardcore that is more honest, soulful, and heavier than the trendy song and dance acts of similar sounding bands.
When most think southern tinged metallic hardcore there’s most likely going to be an echo of Every Time I Die riffs bouncing across ear drums. That’s definitely an accurate comparison as Von Wolfe is a very riff heavy band with a noticeable twang. The difference (other than actually being from the south) is Von Wolfe channels a more traditional hardcore influence rather than Lynyrd Skynyrd making out with Poison the Well in an I-10 rest stop stall. There’s not any singing or any attempt to water down the metallic riffs so that they’d feel comfortable floating down the Chattooga River like Maylene. No, Von Wolfe’s brand of hardcore is more along the lines of pissed off bands like Cursed, or some of the straightened out moments of Converge. The vocals are also a bit on the Cursed side and have that overdriven coarse scream of fellow southerner Josh Scogin of The Chariot.
Their debut EP, Life’s a Beach, is fast, heavy, relentless and very well recorded. Sure there’s some breakdowns and a couple of two-step moments, but nothing that feels trite or worn out. There isn’t much on the record that strays from their formula, but with only an EP’s worth of material it doesn’t get old and requires a few extra spins to indulge in the havoc (listen to it below).
(Not so) Random Start: Heiress (Australia) - “Anathema”
I think that most people would look at how I spent my night as a complete waste since the most eventful moments were sifting through Australian hardcore bands and… well… essentially beard growing (I think my social life has started practicing nihilism). But nights spent with friends, or even the opposite (or same, whatever) sex, never leads to discovery like this. I was just searching bands on bandcamp tagged with Botch or, in this case, The Dillinger Escape Plan, though I am weary of bands throwing around the DEP tag. Heiress explodes immediately and never lets up. It’s definitely more Botch than DEP with a lot of elements of The Chariot, but I hesitate to say that because the angular guitars and song structures are way more innovative and crushing. I guess that’s why I said Botch in the first place. Anyway, this record never lets up. There’s no filler and, even though there’s not much variance in the songwriting, each track contains a “HOLY SHIT” moment. Also, I’m a sucker for the vocal style used in this opening song, the kind where it sounds like a normal voice rising into a scream… make sense? Think the end of “Gristle” by Gaza when Jon Parkin is repeating “Pray, it’s malignant” and there is a moment when you can hear the anguish rising in him. Think that OR listen to this album.
Random Start: Statues - “Dry Springs, Empty Wells”
When I was stumbling upon Australian chaotic hardcore/metal bands, Statues is another band that popped up. I haven’t latched onto them like I have Heiress (Au), but this split they did with Life Pilot (also worth checking out) is a pretty solid effort.