REVIEW: Boundaries – Hartford County Misery [EP/2017]

Artist: Boundaries

Album: Hartford County Misery – EP


We put part of our surroundings into our writing; as part of our craft—the creation of art and literature—it’s inevitable, and frankly, it would be boring if writers and artists didn’t. Sometimes it’s the little things; colloquialisms from our day to day speech (born and raised in the Midwest, you’ll almost never see me write soda), or references to regional stores that restaurants that just don’t exist elsewhere (what the hell is a WaWa?)

Sometimes, though, it’s more than something quaint and small; it’s the summation of the experiences we’ve had living in our surroundings for a lifetime. It’s the anger, passion, power and punishment we’ve felt day after day, week after week, stuck on repeat.

On Boundaries’ latest EP, Hartford County Misery, that’s exactly what it is.

The band spend upwards of twenty minutes venting passion and pure, pissed off aggression throughout a series of spine-shrinking slams and throat-shredding shrieks and bellows. Boundaries combine conventional, traditional metalcore with an infusion of heavy-hardcore intensity and dustings of beatdown and thrash. Built on a foundation of fury and crafted to crush everything in its path, Hartford County Misery is a release that leaves no mystery as to where Boundaries are truly from.


To call Hartford County Misery “hard” doesn’t begin to do the band justice; as Boundaries take the bitterness of their surroundings and capture it with every fight-inducing riff, neck-snapping breakdown and raunchy, ruthless two-step. Percussionist Kevin Stevens is the engine of this devious, devastating mosh-friendly machine—filling every track with energy and aggression until it’s practically bursting at the seams. From the beginning of “Reign of Pain,” through “Dog Teeth,” the anthemic “No Other Way” and the crushing closer “HCM,” Stevens slams his way through the listeners skull with raw, ruthless and tactless power and a delightfully gritty sound that mirrors his relentless and raw style. Steven’s stellar, not-too-fast but far-from-slow percussion is a stellar foundation for the riffs, chugs and dissonant chaos behind the minds and fingers of guitarists Zadak Brooks and Cory Emond. Every song on Hartford County Misery sees the duo including a broad style of influences behind their writing and playing to create something uniquely intense and driving. Drawing from more straightforward and power-house punchy styles of heavy hardcore and metalcore on “Dog Teeth” and “Sour Mouth,” while creating catchy, two-step friendly segments on “Felicia”—a song that is both punishing and passionate in one fell swoop—the duo are as creative as they are cruel. Boundaries won’t be taking home any awards for technicality—and they might not reinvent the wheel when it comes to heavy music—but they do what they do very well and with a twist that is distinctly their own, making them more than appealing to anyone who believes heavy music in 2017 is without a spark of originality.


Where Boundaries’ musicianship captures the infernal heat and sweltering humidity of a Connecticut summer, frontman Matt McDougal’s harsh, bitter brays and gruff barks range from feisty, ferocious heat to frigid, barren cold switch from season to season with every syllable he spits. This is true in every song—from the more aggressive anthems found in “No Other Way” or “Reign of Pain,” to the bold, brash and—frankly—beautiful passion behind moments of “Felicia,” which includes some of McDougal’s meanest lyrics as well as some of his more powerful turns of phrase and storytelling abilities. McDougal’s range, while not off-the-meter, is more than apt to keep up with the faster or heavier portions Boundaries present; as true in “Dog Teeth” as it is during the hellacious closer “HCM.” The point of McDougal’s efforts—and, by extension, the band’s—isn’t to be the most insanely technical or slow-and-lowest chuggers out there. Rather, it’s to make a point with punchy, prominent power, which takes the form of brute force strength and remarkable endurance, both of which key factors in McDougal’s vocal performance.


Hartford County Misery is a masterful display of ignorant aggression—nothing less, but certainly much more. Within its seven tracks is storytelling capability uncharacteristic of bands in Boundaries’ wheelhouse, as well as moments of ear-drawing catchiness and full-tilt insanity. This crushing quartet combine several styles of –core and metallic influence to make something gritty and nostalgic sound and feel brand spankin’ new—a delightful blend of misery that is sure to expend beyond the limits of Hartford County.



For Fans Of: I AM, Varials, Depreciator, Repressed, Code Orange

By: Connor Welsh