Jesus Christ, who shat in Mortality Rate’s cereal?
Outside of certain releases from the likes of Vein, sanction, SYSC, Cursed Earth, Knocked Loose, and Dying Wish, there aren’t many genuinely angry, pained hardcore releases these days. That’s not to say there aren’t angered hardcore bands currently active whose music and lyricism isn’t hard-hitting in terms of emotion and honesty, because there are. Yet a conversation with a very good friend of mine a few months back got me thinking: “what is the most angry sounding album I’ve heard lately?” He and I both agreed that perhaps the last of one such rare release was The Hope Conspiracy’s ‘Death Knows Your Name‘ LP, from way back in 2006. That thing was next level shit even back then.
Capturing and feeling that authentic ire is a pretty tricky and subjective thing to grasp and quantify. Yet with the right riffs, right songs, right tempo, and the right vocal timbre and lyricism, there can be such a whirlwind of rage summoned up; the kind that just leaves you utterly speechless. That’s been the case for me lately with Mortality Rate’s latest EP, this April’s ‘You Were The Gasoline‘.
Mortality Rate (who share members with Serration, who did a super pissed-off metalcore-revival split with Dying Wish last year, in some cool six-degrees of hardcore separation) make truly angry, unfiltered heavy music that doesn’t at all hold back. For real, ‘aggressive’ doesn’t even begin to cover their work.
‘You Were The Gasoline‘ is a damn fine example of how to take tried-and-true, breakdown-laden metallic hardcore, but then make it all sound confronting, satisfying, and fresh. This release just goes so far beyond their own 2017 split with Judiciary and ‘Sleep Deprivation‘ EP (2016), that it’s practically immeasurable and incomparable. As just like the building ablaze upon this EP’s cover, Mortality Rate’s musical output is a fucking forest fire that can not be put out. You can even see this in their live performances, like this 2019 show caught by SCOPED EXPOSURE, as well as this 2017 This Is Hardcore set captured by hate5six himself.
Dedicated to their sadly passed-on good friend, Evan Cole Shaw, a well-known face from the Clagary hardcore music community, ‘You Were The Gasoline‘ is legitimate rage and loss manifested over six songs of arresting screams and chain-sawing riffage. And it makes zero apologies for that. Screamed admissions of suicidal thoughts, depression, regret and guilt barrel forth from the incendiary war-mouth of vocalist Jess Nyx. This EP really is her vehicle to discuss friendships (both tight-knit and brittle), politics, economics, veganism, mental health and even death. It’s heavy music with a very real message, and I respect that.
Opener ‘Lena‘ is a short but dark funeral dirge, a foreboding piano-piece warning of the wicked, barely-ten-minute-long hardcore storm that’s about to unload before you. Then it all hits with ‘Roses‘, the last song written for the EP and created in honour of Evan Shaw’s memory. It’s an emotionally palpable ride; about carrying the light of others when they’re gone; about wishing to see someone last time; about missing loved ones and trying to find closure. At other times, like the feverish second-half of ‘Selfish Thieves‘, the stampeding instrumentals and blood-thirsty cries on the title track, or every single blistering second of ‘Heathen‘, the EP threatens to go off the rails. But like the very best hardcore acts that brandish chaos as a weapon, Mortality Rate are in full control. The chip on the group’s collective shoulders is certainly huge, but they sure know how to use it.
Mixed and mastered by Daniel Colombo, this wild EP skirts a great line between raw and polished, sounding just as it should and never leaving anything to be desired sonically. Everything is in it’s right place; the tectonic drums, the killer bass, the Entombed-esque guitars, and skin-peeling vocal deliveries. All of this fires through this EP’s five core songs like a surging volcanic eruption, and when that levelling shock-and-awe of ‘Lonely Soul‘ stomps down, it’s like a hardcore Nirvana has been achieved.
This band just goes so damned hard, and they do a lot with only six tracks. To the point where I find it irresistible to not love what they’re putting down here. Ignite yourself with Mortality Rate’s latest: