Album: Street Shark – EP
Waiting in the shadows lies a constant, brooding menace to your health. It follows you home from work every day, plotting to drown every nerve ending in your body with a pain more pure than any you’ve ever known. It sharpens its claws, bares its teeth and—when you least expect it—strikes, leaving your flesh hanging in tatters as if it was tissue paper. It is Street Shark, the aptly named EP from Texan terrifiers, Mauler. True to their name, Mauler are a boorish, frenzied assault on the listener—letting loose a bone-splintering beatdown hardcore EP that lacks any sense of a filter and is composed of pure fury. Street Shark is a basic-yet-brutal display of heavy hardcore savagery that has an appetite for carnage and a passion for punishment.
If you are expecting technicality or subtlety from Mauler, be warned: you are in for disappointment. Street Shark has a mentality that fits its name—either keep moving, or start sinking. Mauler begin whaling on the listener with bare knuckles from the first seconds of “We Call this an Intro,” and don’t stop until the EP is over. Mauler’s misanthropic instrumentation is a lesson in lacerating aggression that makes most hardcore bands look like dream pop. Built on Thomas De Leon’s excellent, energetic percussion, Street Shark races through the listener’s speakers and right into their ears. “Get Buck” sees De Leon doing just that—leading the quartet with bouncy, booming drumming that hits harder than Mike Tyson. “Low Xnd” is another display of A’s punchy percussion—amplified by Mario Guillen’s grotesque, grimy bass grooves. Together, these two add punch and crush to Mauler’s murderously heavy breakdowns and bone-busting beatdowns. This roaring low end is the engine that drives Street Shark—and guitarist Ever Yuu is the fuel. With basic, bare-knuckle riffs and ruthless, hyperdissonant chugs, Yuu is what gives Mauler’s musical aspect a traditional hardcore flair. Where “Get Buck” and “Street Shark” both showcase De Leonand Guillen’s proclivity towards pummeling breakdowns, “Low Xnd” and “L.C.H.” See Yuu running the show, adding copious amounts of cutthroat hardcore to Mauler’s murky, low base.
Where Mauler’s musicianship contains aspects of modern, chug-driven hardcore and downtempo deathcore brightened by flashy percussion and quick, thrashy riffs, the band’s vocal element is almost entirely in favor of harsh, hectic shouts reminiscent of raw, traditional beatdown hardcore. Frontman Waylon Magallan reigns with an iron fist and a hoarse throat—a product of ranging from raw shouts to gurgling growls and everything in between. “Get Buck,” the EP’s longest and most diverse track, subsequently sees Magallan at his most varied, inciting violence with frantic, furious mosh calls and barking lyrics a mile-a-minute during the hardcore anthem’s more aggressive and hurried segments. While Magallan isn’t the most diverse or dynamic frontman heavy hardcore has ever seen, he is more than adept at abroad range of vocal styles diverse enough to keep the listener hooked throughout a vast majority of Street Shark. In a genre where most vocalists are content with one style of scream or shout, Magallan separates himself from the herd.
Between the varied styles of instrumental heaviness and the entrancing, raw vocals Mauler bring to the table, Street Shark is a premiere example of heavy hardcore for those just getting into the genre or those looking to expand their already broad collection. Perfect for everything from waking up in the morning or getting amped for a two-hour lifting session, Mauler’s latest EP is an energetic display of no-holds-barred fury that will get the listener’s blood flowing faster than a waterfall. “L.C.H.” Is a catchy, quick track that hits like Mohammad Ali, while the longer, more thought-out songs like “Get Buck” or “Street Shark” linger and sizzle like a deep, throbbing burn. On those tracks, Mauler put more energy—and more actual thought—into their songwriting and create songs that are veritable anthems; iconic displays of hardcore prowess that stand tall above an overwhelming majority of the genres dime-a-dozen acts. At the end of the day, Mauler won’t reign in a new era for hardcore, nor will they convince skeptics of the genre to fall in love with bloody-knuckle beatdown. What they do—and do well—however is to take a stale sound and pump fresh blood and life into it, giving it the means to hit harder than it has in years, and refresh old fans’ love of the sound.
For Fans Of: Drowning, Unity-TX, Misgiver
By: Connor Welsh