This is a firecracker of an album, but one deeply entrenched in hardcore’s past.
Mike Diver 2010-05-05
Hardcore rock of this white-knuckled, wildly aggressive variety arguably began and ended with Black Flag’s 1981 debut, Damaged. That record featured a succession of short and fast numbers, and has influenced innumerable musicians with short attention spans and predilections for heavily amplified guitar riffs ever since. Sacramento-spawned quartet Trash Talk has been steadily building a buzz in hardcore circles for a couple of years, and their third album is aimed at introducing them to an audience wider than any they’ve enjoyed before. But it, like countless collections before it, plays to conventions cast in iron almost 30 years ago.
The band’s obvious debt to their forebears isn’t overlooked, though – they’ve previously collaborated with Black Flag’s Keith Morris, and here they join forces with both Greg Heston (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion) and The Bronx’s lead-screamer Matt Caughthran. When things take a turn for the melodious, it’s Caughthran’s eponymous-album-fixated crew that Trash Talk most easily evoke – Explode is the closest this album comes to delivering sing-along motifs, although passing out come the climax of its two-and-a-half minutes is an inevitable outcome should one attempt to keep pace with the voraciously barked vocals.
In the recent past, Trash Talk were almost exclusively synonymous with quick-fix frenzies of furious, angst-racked rhapsodies – last year’s Shame compilation rollicked through 29 tracks in 28 minutes – but here they widen their sonic palette to some degree with a relatively lengthy dirge by the name of Hash Wednesday. It’s a sludgy aside on an otherwise breathlessly boisterous album, and though as absolutely generic in scope, albeit equally accomplished of execution, as the rest of its makers’ fare, it represents a welcome change of pace.
At under a minute in length each, Vultures, Envy and I Do are the most unreconstructed of the by-the-book hardcore bangers – and the most effective for their brevity. Trudge dares to holler itself hoarse for a whole 30 seconds after the minute mark, and feels oddly overdone in such efficiently visceral company. Not that many attentions will wane from start to finish, but after a few spins of Eyes & Nines one hankers for something with a more pronounced voice of its own, along the higher-standard lines of Das Oath and Converge. This is a firecracker of an album, no doubt about that – but its longevity is appropriately limited, its stretch across the hardcore spectrum deliberately hamstrung.