Album: Turncoat – EP
We’re all chasing something—and some of us will do whatever it takes to get it. Where many—the honest majority—are willing to work hard and play it safe to earn their keep and live their own versions of the American Dream, others are prepared to take far more drastic measures. Of these groups there are those who will give up blood, sweat and sanity, wearing themselves to the bone to go above and beyond the call of duty—and those who will lie, cheat, steal and betray. And while Turncoat may draw their name from the latter, their music is without a doubt exemplary of the former. Channeling yesteryear’s DIY hardcore punk stylings, finished with flawless production and more frenzied fervor than a cage of starved Rottweilers, Turncoat’s Eulogy Records debut EP is raunchy, ruthless and relentless—a brilliant example of hardcore punk that manages to stay relevant in a time where the heavy music community has largely left the sound behind.
Go peruse your favorite blog or website for discovering new bands. Chances are, seven out of ten will be overproduced, slower than a snail and monotonous in the name of murderous “heaviness.” Of the three tenths that remain, I’ll bet at least one is trying to fit in with the other seven but is held back by less-than-great production.
You’ll find Turncoat among the remaining fifth—a proud, punishing example of a band carrying on traditional hardcore’s banner.
Turncoat are not technical—they don’t djent and they have precisely no “prog.” They don’t play in drop-Z or something absurd; rather they play passionate and powerful hardcore that relies on quick, savage percussion and intense riffs that segue into skull-splitting breakdowns and dancy two steps. Percussionist Austin Cornette is the band’s steadily beating heart—kicking off “Own Up” with fun, bouncy footwork that quickly progresses into a peppy two-step pattern. In keeping with what one would expect from hardcore, Cornette doesn’t go crazy with over the top fills—instead he keeps time and provides boatloads of energy, working with bassist Nick Steadman to provide a fluid, pulsing low end. The duo shine before the apex of “Own Up” and during the bouncy, bass-heavy intro to the closing number, “Blindfolded,” and at several points in between. Steadman—like Cornette–doesn’t steal the show or the spotlight: he adds heft and thickness to Cornette’s quick bass drum and provides a dynamic firmament for guitarist Keith Keister to riff, chug and strum atop. “The Friends You Need” is a brilliant example of the band’s ability to work together to write enormous, anthemic hardcore tracks—as Cornette and Steadman hold down the foundation, Keister shines with a series of enormous riffs that are bound to stay stuck in the listener’s head. Meanwhile, “Growing Up” and “Pushing Through” see Keister working with Steadman more closely to write some of the EP’s heavier breakdowns—all while still adding thrashy riffs into the mix.
Where Turncoat’s instrumentation is a point-blank shotgun blast of timeless hardcore, the band’s vocal effort follows suit. Frontman Jim Ash dominates with harsh shouts that occasionally delve into burly barks from time to time—and while his vocals may take some getting used to for fans of more contemporary –core genres, they are an excellent compliment to Turncoat’s musicianship. Ash’s yells and harsh brays cut through the instrumentation and sear themselves on the listener’s brain—using his volume and candor as a crushing vector for lyricism that touches on several stalwarts of hardcore’s usual “message.” While it’s a fair point that Ash’s vocals and lyrics may not do anything “new” or “groundbreaking,” they do what they’re meant to—give a voice to Turncoat’s tight-knit and tremendous approach to hardcore.
Fun, fast and pissed, Turncoat’s self-titled EP is precisely what any fan of hardcore could want from an EP. Providing six full tracks with plenty of opportunities to tear up the pit—and packing passion and power both in an unstoppable one-two punch onslaught, Turncoat are a blast from the past that manage to find their permanent place in today’s scene with tight production and intelligent songwriting. Many will find they need a couple listens to round out the “learning curve” that comes with diving into this band—especially if you’re new to heavy music and haven’t been exposed to the genre before—but ultimately, even though Turncoat don’t reinvent the wheel, they are certainly worth the time it takes to get truly hooked on their sound.
For Fans Of: Madball, CST, Drowning, Short Leash
By: Connor Welsh