Violent Life Violent Death – Break.Burn.End.
Release Date: 15:09/2023
Running Time: 24:00
Review by Rory Bentley
Charlotte NC bruisers Violent Life Violent Death take the Metallic aspect of Metallic Hardcore very seriously. In a genre where everyone is trying to either out-innovate each other or more commonly out-angry each other, they have bolstered the most nasty elements of Extreme Metal and D-Beat onto their core sound to produce one of the most white-hot furious cuts of 2023.
As the record opens with ‘Weapon of Pain’ the familiar sound of an angry lad cursing God in a creepy spoken word section slithers through the mix under menacing walls of feedback. So far so ‘Punishment’ by Biohazard. What stops the track falling into cliché, however, is the truly horrific, glass-gargling vocals of Scott Cowan and the sludgy chainsaw guitar tones of Joseph Benham and Daniel Knight. Structurally the song itself adheres to a pretty route one Hardcore template, however the tonal choices and feral performance set the band apart. Tone can be such a massive deal breaker in more deliberately minimalist genres like Punk and Hardcore as they can be essential in allowing a band to stand out from everyone else ploughing the same furrow and this subtle but vital nuance is one of the band’s greatest strengths.
‘The Snapping of Teeth’ expands the bleak soundscape further with another absolutely furious vocal performance and some muscular guitars that still retain the wiry intensity of the more discordant Hardcore of Norma Jean and Zao, panic chords and all. Again, there are more spoken word passages which are incredibly effective at adding atmosphere and more importantly variety to the music. It’s nice to see more Hardcore vocalists are going down the creepy Nick Cave approach to vocals when they want to add some new flavours to their delivery. Let’s face it, clean vocals have ruined a lot of perfectly putrid songs in recent times so this approach is a welcome string to the bow of the front person that wants to branch out without going soft!
Speaking of things that definitely aren’t soft, there’s a shit load of crusty D-Beat all over this thing that warms my shrivelled poison heart. ‘Devastation on the Tip of the Tongue’ is particularly savage, barrelling in at a million miles an hour with octopus-limbed drumming and a truly unhinged vocal performance. I’m as big a fan of slightly silly macho posturing as the next man but for me Hardcore is never more effective than when the singer sounds like they’re having a full-on meltdown while being possessed by a demon who is also having a full-on meltdown. ‘Saying Your Name is to Choke on Ashes’ (these song titles are fucking great) continues this beautiful balance between Discharge and despair later on and just may be the jewel in the record’s thorny crown.
“Break.Burn.End” is one of those records you feel in your gut, often in the form of an agonising stabbing sensation. The production is raw and dirty, the band sound psychotic and there is a pervasive atmosphere of ominous doom that soaks every second of its mercifully brisk 24 minute runtime. If you want something truly spiteful and abrasive to start your spooky season this will definitely get the job done.
01. Weapon of Pain
02. The Snapping of Teeth
03. Deceit Welcomed by Blind Grace
04. Devastation on the Tip of the Tongue
05. The Light Behind
06. Break. Burn. End.
07. Saying Your Name is to Choke on Ash
08. Maintain the Quiet
09. Heaven so Far Away
10. Come Armageddon
Vocals – Scott Cowan
Guitar – Joseph Benham
Guitar – Daniel Knight
Bass – Justin Campbell
Drums – David Holquin
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