Album: You Are the Enemy – EP
Imagine taking a grave—a cavernous void that stretches endlessly into the bowels of the earth—a ditch that cannot be defined by depth or dimension and filling it with every ounce of scathing hostility mankind has experienced since our inception. Every ounce of bitter hatred and energetic loathing you can fathom; take it and use it to fill this gaping hole in the earth’s crust, and when you can’t fit another instance of insolence or depravity into it, cover it—a thin, densely packed layer of dirt and gravel, nothing more—and let it be. Let it fester, rot and decay.
Given time, it will take a new shape and identity—it will rearrange itself into something new and eviscerating that defies modern definition. It will become You Are the Enemy, the sophomore release by Northwestern nihilists-turned-metallic hardcore act, Zero. With their debut EP, No Salvation, the band aptly proved that their name was certainly no reflection of the dense and devastating content of their music—and with You Are the Enemy, they continue the journey started by their debut release, refining their sound and adding even more spastic energy and ultra-dissonant disarray into the mix. The result is loosely organized chaos—a maelstrom of murderous intensity—that annihilates everything it touches.
You Are the Enemy finds Zero at a unique instrumental crossroads that is located at the approximate intersection of metalcore, beatdown hardcore and fast, pissed powerviolence—with maybe sporadic hints of heavier hardcore elements that make themselves heard in songs like “Suffer.” At the band’s core is percussionist Michael Davidson—the act’s erratically beating heart—hammering away with careful precision blended with absurd and over-the-top energy. “Leech,” for all its quick-and-pissed nature, highlights this brilliantly, as does the climactic titular track. Meanwhile, “Suffer,” a kiloton example of Killer brutality sees Davidson working with bassist William Quintana and guitarist Andrew Badziong to create a brutal hybrid of hellish, slam-laden intensity and lacerating, pointed punishment. Badziong’s fretwork is a combination of directed, riff-based ruthlessness (“A Grim Recollection” and “Leech” showcase this) and low, slow, hyperdissonant chuggery (“Suffer”). What’s more is that where Badziong’s fretwork takes a turn for the heavier, bassist Quintana is right there with him, making every skin-peeling chug just that much heavier and more hectic. Together, Zero’s trio of tremendous instrumentalists creates something that manages to oscillate between spastic energy and sheer heaviness without skipping a beat or sounding half-assed, which on its own is a remarkable feat.
Those familiar with Zero are also familiar with the band’s vocalist—Benjamin Hoagland—who is perhaps more well known for his work as the vocalist and lyricist of Extortionist. Just because Extortionist might be his main squeeze and the more renowned of his projects, however, doesn’t mean he’s just messing around with Zero—this was true on No Salvation, and it is certainly true on You Are the Enemy. From his first unrestrained roars of “Leech,” throughout the heated and anthemic “A Grim Recollection,” all the way to the end of “You Are the Enemy,” Hoagland’s vocals are cataclysmic in the best way possible. Tactless and terrifying mid-range roars dive into devastating low bellows and violence-inciting mosh calls without warning, making even the EP’s faster and more transient moments leave lasting impressions on the listener. Where No Salvation saw Hoagland still getting a feel for less intricate and more brutish styles abundant in Zero’s dynamic, You Are the Enemy sees him feeling as at home as he sounds on The Decline; which makes this release infinitely more lethal than Zero’s debut.
A mass grave of mankind’s murderous tendencies—awakened and invigorated by contemporary cruelty and all the energy of ten energizer bunnies combined, Zero are back with a tremendous follow-up experience that dwarfs their debut. Where You Are the Enemy is short at just a hair over ten minutes (which can’t help but leave listeners wanting more), it packs a full-bodied punch and leaves a lasting impression on the listener. If you like fast, furious hardcore or low, lurid slams or anything ruthless and raunchy that dwells in the in-between, you will fall in love with Zero.
For Fans Of: No Zodiac, Dwell, Torture, Hanging Moon
By: Connor Welsh