Artist: Lock & Key
Turn on the news for five minutes and you’ll see it’s no secret that the world has surrendered to strife. No longer are there stretches of blissful tranquility when it comes to global events—rather, there are tedious, stressful moments of tension, keeping the international pulse racing between outbursts of violence. We’ve become a world adjusted to it, and no matter how much you may want to deny it as nihilism or negativity, there is proof everywhere. Case in point: the debut full length by English hardcore act Lock & Key, Peaceless. Exactly what one might discern from the name, Peaceless is a punishing display of heavy-handed hardcore that bludgeons and batters the listener in submission with unsettling ease. Built on lightning like riffs, fast-paced harmonies and furious, soul-smothering breakdowns, Peaceless is the sound of those who have found home in disharmony, embracing entropy to great avail.
Instrumentally, Lock & Key take a foundation of what once was melodic hardcore and infuse it with equal parts intense, metallic riffing and bone-crushing brutality. The result is one of the most pointed, punishing and aggressive hardcore releases of the year, as Peacelessis a machine constructed by malevolence to inflict pure punishment with no filler or frills to be found. Percussionist Josh Murphy embodies Lock & Key’s energetic philosophy to the core, beating away like an amphetamine junkie’s strung-out heart. Murphy’s work from the very get-go of “Hostile” is hurried and hectic, combining fleet footwork with flashy fills to build a solid foundation of speed and fury upon which bassist Danny Reeves can groove with ease and efficacy. Together, Murphy and Reeves provide a rhythmic, racing low end that is simply unstoppable. Whether it’s on the riff-driven “Unclear State of Mind” or the pummeling “No Acceptance,” the duo keep it quick and crushing—allowing guitarists Gary Stephens and Ben Wright ample material to shred and slam atop. From dancy two-steps in “Burning Bridges” to furiously fretted riffs and grooves in “Unclear State of Mind” and the exceptionally quick “Vultures,” Stephens and Wright are relentless, making Peaceless more than dissonant and aggressive enough to live up to its name. While the duo may not make many tracks that are worthy of technical praise, the two keep things fresh and fast, weaving in and out of punchy breakdowns with fluidity enough to surprise the listener even after several play-throughs.
Those familiar with Lock & Key’s debut effort, The Divide, are already aware of the vocal dynamism that awaits them within this English quintet. Virgins to the act’s aggressive candor, however, are in for a treat—as Lock & Key is fronted by Odessa’s own Rich Lardner, who manages to excel each of his previous releases with his incredible energy and malicious lyricism on Peaceless. The Divide saw a more melodic and emotional side of Lardner, perhaps—where his latest effort truly focuses on one shade of his emotional spectrum: bitter, bold rage. From the aptly titled “Hostile,” Lardner launches an all-out war, roaring on every track and absolutely refusing to let up even an ounce on the listener. Consistently oppressive, Lardner’s somewhat limited range sticks to a traditional, harsh mid-range scream to inflict gaping incisions upon the listener’s exposed and unsuspecting flesh. Lardner may not take home awards for vocal diversity, but he is chomping at the bit when it comes to winning awards for pure—and pissed off—passion, keeping listener’s coming back for more with the catchy barks throughout “Burning Bridges” and “Unclear State of Mind.”
Peacelessi s action packed, pummeling the listener with ferocity from start to finish. Lock & Key take the foundation they formed with their debut EP and add to it, infusing it with aggression and (even more) energy to give it a much harsher and more metallic feel to their dynamic than ever before. Even with the Pulp Fiction-esque adrenaline shot to the heart, Peaceless does feel slightly monotonous at parts, with the album’s lengthy run-time doing the band a slight disservice, even where Stephens and Wright do their damnedest to keep things fresh and varied. The result is a release that is an immensely fun listen for the first few go-rounds, but eventually finds only the five-to-Seven truly excellent songs in high rotation. Even so, anthems like “Hostile,” “Unclear State of Mind,” “Never Ender” and “Vultures” fail to ever grow old—a harsh, hotter-than-hellfire reminder that the world is a truly Peaceless place
For Fans Of: Betrayal, Odessa, The Ghost Inside, Counterparts, Hundredth
By: Connor Welsh