Artist: Easy Money
Album: Rules of the Game – EP
It’s easy to get caught up in how complicated and demanding life can be. With technology at its peak and there being more ways than ever to communicate, broadcast, create, share and argue with others, it seems as though living “simply” has become a novel notion. However, when you cut through the distractions and “hustle and bustle” of day-to-day life, there’s really one way the world and the people who inhabit it break down:
You’re either the pawn or the player, and when it comes to Arizona-based hyper-aggressive hardcore collective Easy Money, they are most definitely the latter. Precise and punishing with their hybrid breed of heavy-handed, blunt-force hardcore and riff-driven, subtly groovy metal, Rules of the Game is a four-track display of heavy music supremacy. Blending bone-busting breakdowns with raunchy and ruthless grooves that weave in and out of riffs that will leave the listener’s skin flayed cleanly from bone, Rules of the Game is just that—the heavy hardcore release that might just set the standard for artists of Easy Money’s caliber going forward.
Combining elements of thrashy, raw metal and ruthless, go-for-the-jugular hardcore, Easy Money’s Rules of the Game is sharp as a knife, but as pummeling as a dozen thugs with baseball bats. Percussionist Petro finds himself at the core of this dynamic—especially the latter part—hammering away without abandon or mercy for a great majority of the band’s sophomore EP. While “The Score” might start softly and serenely, by the time the song is halfway to completion, Petro has dropped the jazzy, sultry style in favor of something fans of the band’s previous work (and heavy music in general) know all too well: pure power. Petro’s kick drum is deep and monstrous, sounding like ten cannons firing all at once. This is in sharp contrast to his bright, sharp snare and splashy cymbals—creating a kit that simply shines throughout every track on Rules of the Game. From “The Score,” through the blistering but brief “Out of Pocket” and the diverse closing number “Ricochet,” Petro’s drumming, along with Taylor’s bass work, provides a solid and stellar foundation for the band’s bold combination of metallic stylings and traditional, beatdown-infused hardcore. Taylor’s bass adds depth and heft throughout the four tracks of fuming, relentless aggression that defines Rules of the Game; this is as true on the curiosity-piquing introduction, through “Out of Pocket” and “Easy Target” and to the closing seconds of “Ricochet,” but more than Taylor adds a beefy, meaty feeling to the EP, he serves as a brilliant jumping-off point for guitarist Mookie. Mookie’s fretwork is everything listeners found themselves hooked on with the band’s previous release, Midas Touch, but with a slightly more metallic hue. “Easy Target,” for example, sees Mookie using loftier, almost sludge-influenced fretwork to kick the track off, before diving into brash and brazen hardcore infused, two step-friendly riffs. Meanwhile, “Out of Pocket” is simply balls-to-the-wall insanity, the type of chaos that levels venues and sends entire neighborhoods into a mosh-driven frenzy. Mookie takes Petro’s energy and intensity and combines it with Taylor’s thick, groovy bass to make something that defies conventional “hardcore,” and whatever rules come along with it.
Where Rules of the Game sees the band adding an extra ounce or two of thrashy, riff-heavy and ruthless instrumentation, frontman Troy adds entire gallons of it. Songs like “Easy Target” see Troy’s voice sounding like it might be coming from the larynx of a 90s crossover act time-warped to 2017; while there is no arguing with how aggressive and absolutely intimidating his gruff, bellowed growls and shouts are throughout the rest of Rules of the Game’s duration. Even the mellow, atmospheric introduction to the album gives way underneath Troy’s terrifying vocals; opening the floodgates to a tidal wave of fury and peerless, punishing bitterness that drips from every syllable. Where “Easy Target”—featuring the welcome words and howls of Eric Hula—is a dynamic display of Easy Money’s vocal adaptation to their more contemporary take on crushing, heavy-handed crossover, songs like “Out of Pocket” are examples of the band staying close to their beatdown, bruised-up hardcore roots—reigning supremely over the listener and the group’s peers with sinister, sharp sentences spat over sections of skull-crushing instrumentation.
If you’ve never had a concussion or suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, then you’re in for an all new experience in more ways than one with Easy Money’s Rules of the Game. Ruthless from start to finish, and laden with lurid-yet-catchy aggression that is simply defined as powerful. Drawing from Mookie’s murderous ability to riff with the best of them, combined with Petro’s punishing and perfunctory percussion and Taylor’s tremendous bass, there’s nothing easy about Easy Money—except for how simply and quickly the listener finds themselves hooked on them. Rules of the Game is a strong frontrunner for one of 2017’s most ruthless displays of heavy music—nothing less, nothing more.
For Fans Of: Guilt Trip, World of Pain, No Zodiac, Mara, Bent Life
By: Connor Welsh