Artist: Honest Crooks
Album: End of Life – EP
With resounding force, a power shakes through every fiber of your being. Your body is no longer yours—forcibly hijacked by some kind of higher power. You’ve become a ticking time bomb, just wasting seconds until your life ends, taking countless others with you. You have become violence incarnate, the very definition of mayhem and malevolence just waiting until you are pushed to your breaking point. You are Honest Crooks, and this is your End of Life. Honest Crooks are all the scorn, fury and bitterness of Hell packed into one punishing quartet. Hailing from Down Under’s dirtiest streets, Honest Crooks have returned with their sophomore release, End of Life, an EP which sees them take their already grimy heavy-handed hardcore and make it even muddier, adding a newfound penchant for slamming heaviness and over-the-top bass to provide an experience that is comprehensively crushing—and perhaps the most obliterating album the listener will find under 10 minutes long.
End of Life is evidence of a band that had potential to be prominent and unique making use of that potential to achieve greatness the only way they know how: by simply murdering their competition. Percussionist Jesse Green no longer adheres to relatively simple patterns—instead, he devastates the listener with dynamic, speedy fills (a la “Extermination Syndicate”) and mammoth, raunchy grooves that move about as slowly as a tortoise but stomp with enough force to level mountains (here, “Dead Man” excels). Moments like the opening sequence of skin-emulsifying slams on “Dead Man” see Green working in excellent tandem with bassist Lewy Glass. Glass takes Green’s already grotesquely filthy percussion and layers it in grime, making “Dead Man”—and indeed all of End of Life—lurid and lacerating. Some moments he is dedicated to pulverizing the listener with punishing breakdowns; however, at others, he works closely with guitarist Calum Johnstone to unleash half-riff, half-slam, all-aggressive displays of masterful fretwork upon the listener. The EP’s title track sees this done especially well—as Johnstone’s furiously fretted guitar work is unique, oscillating from onslaughts of chugs to ominous, eerie riffs that will scare the listener to death—if they haven’t already met their fate via blunt force trauma.
Honest Crooks haven’t capped their development with enormous, eviscerating leaps in their instrumentation. Refusing to stay sedentary in any aspect of their awe-inspiring maturation, End of Life sees the quartet blossoming in every aspect—including that of their vocals. Frontman Barry Morgan has matured into a whole new vocalist since the band’s debut EP, Hellsworth—which is especially shocking considering his stellar performance even there. However, Morgan is now infinitely more diverse, both in vocal stylings and lyrical content. Morgan flows proficiently from punishing, piercing high screams to grisly bellows without batting an eyelid. Just as one would expect, his lyrical content has grown to follow his vocal development. While still boundlessly aggressive, End of Life is home to bitter syllables and brutal one-liners directed as establishment, society and—at times—even introspectively, where Morgan exposes the innermost workings of his mind. Morgan’s masterful wordplay and vocal expertise sums up the total growth of Honest Crooks as a band—taking promise and turning into pure talent.
Even with a short runtime, what End of Life lacks in length, it easily makes up for in run time. In three short tracks, Honest Crooks have combined traditional hardcore with slam, deathcore and metalcore to create a carnivorous monstrosity that will not rest until it has devoured every ounce of the listener’s sanity. “End of Life” is a jarring, gunshot-to-the-temple kind of wake-up call that heavy music fans need after years of droning, samey-sounding downtempo deathcore–if they didn’t already get that wakeup call from “Dead Man.” However, where End of Life is a wonderful testament to innovation within heavy music subgenres, it is an even greater testament to Honest Crooks’ maturation. A young band, this quartet has already learned that bands are like sharks–If they cease progressing, they sink. With that in mind, they soar straight forward like a torpedo on meth amphetamines, or, more accurately, like a bullet splitting straight through the listener’s skull.
For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, Agerasia, Varials
By: Connor Welsh