Innerstrength Records have been making big leaps in the last year to establish themselves as a source of fresh, hard-hitting and heavy hardcore artists from around the world–and no band exemplifies this quite as well as Death Card. Combining quick, frantic punk elements with mosh-inducing, spin-kicking, fist-throwing heaviness the band’s latest music video for “Snoozer” is just about anything but lethargic. Hit the play button and check them out–and if you like what you hear, be sure to keep scrolling and read up about the entire album, Damage Swing, releasing this Friday, 7/21 through Innerstrength Records!
Artist: Death Card
Album: Damage Swing
With an ominous name drawn from the mystical allure and whimsical fatality of drawing Tarot cards, one might expect an atmospheric, dreary and bleak soundscape from relatively new hardcore act Death Card. While one might expect a gothic-tinted foray into grim metalcore or sprawling doom metal based on the band’s name alone, it turns out, much more can be gleaned from the name of the act’s debut full length.
In a Mortal Kombat sense, Damage Swing is just that—a series of bone-breaking, flesh-shredding blows that culminates in a sonic fatality. With little in the way of ethereality and atmosphere but boatloads of energy and brash, eviscerating, riff-driven power, Death Card channel the likes of Comeback Kid and Incendiary to create punk-infused and punchy hardcore anthems that stick to the listener’s mind as if they’re melted there, delivering unfathomable damage with each churning breakdown.
There is not a single minute of peace on the just-over-twenty-minute-long onslaught that is Damage Swing. Reeling back and decking the listener with blow after blow until its knuckles are bloody and the listener’s face is a raw pulp, Damage Swing attacks with a go-for-the-throat mentality that captures the very essence of contemporary hardcore. Percussionist Ryan McDonald is a murderer behind the kit—with “Barking Irons” and “Snoozer” along with the closing number “Devilry” capturing his energy and precision both. Forming a solid foundation with a meaty kick drum and sharp snare, McDonald adds quick, flashy fills here and there to keep the listener guessing throughout the duration of Damage Swing, refusing to succumb to mediocrity. Magnificent and dense as McDonald’s drumming is, he is never alone—accompanied constantly by bassist Samuel Mattingly. Mattingly’s grisly, low bass rumbles alongside McDonald’s kick drum and adds heft to every riff and raunchy two step—even going far enough to make the churning, crunchy breakdowns hit harder than they would with McDonald’s kick alone. “Barking Irons” and “Sand Colored Over” are great examples of this—while other songs such as “Damage Swing” see Mattingly working more closely with guitarists Mikey Harrod and Joseph Settle. Harrod and Settle might not be magnificently technical, but they don’t seem to have that as their aim; instead, they create adrenaline-surging riffs and rampaging breakdowns bold enough to level entire city blocks. “Sand Colored Over” is home to a fantastic two-step and anthemic punk portion that exemplifies this, while “Devilry” and “Snoozer” are faster and more abrasive, throwing in sky-shattering breakdowns to keep the listener completely on their toes. Instrumentally, Death Card tread the line between straight-up, pissed-off hardcore and more punk-infused hardcore stylings, keeping things just diverse enough to prevent monotony.
At the forefront of Death Card’s onslaught is frontman Chad Callis, who roars with the ferocity of ten lions and the endurance of a marathon runner. With lungs of iron and a throat that yields belted yells as coarse as sandpaper, Callis uses the quick candor and ample intensity of Damage Swing’s damaging instrumentation to enable his voice to deliver the final blow. Songs like “Barking Irons” are a constant assault of Callis’ harsh yells—while “Damage Swing” and “Search Party” see a pitched, half-screamed, half-sung yell reminiscent of Comeback Kid’s Broadcasting…; something that stands out amid the twenty minutes of nearly incessant intensity. While a little more variety from Callis would be appreciated, his peerless power and infernal intensity more than make up for it, driving things along where they may have otherwise stalled out. Insisting that with each blow, Death Card deal more and more damage.
Death Card are a band that do for 2017 what early The Ghost Inside did for 2010, and what early Comeback Kid did for 2005—make hardcore accessible and fun, instead of dense, grating and—honestly—an acquired taste. Damage Swing is unruly and jarring for much of its runtime, but is also home to some fast-paced, punk-influenced harmonies, allowing tracks to flow into one another but also stand apart. “Barking Irons” is an immense opening number that sees Death Card swinging from one extreme to the other—much in the same way that “Everest In Collapse” does. Never backing down and refusing to stop swinging, Death Card—while not necessarily doing anything new—are an excellent reminder of why hardcore, free of filler or superfluous gimmicks, can be so damn great.
For Fans Of: Comeback Kid, Turncoat, Backswing, Incendiary, Downswing, The Ghost Inside
By: Connor Welsh