Artist: Whatever It Takes
Album: Death Blow
What do you think of when you think of the word Desperation? Some people think of hopelessness and despair—of those trampled by life with nothing left and little hope to escape their current situation. True enough, that does paint an apt picture of one sense of the word—but Belgian beatdown hardcore overlords Whatever It Takes beg to differ. To them, desperation is precisely what the band name might imply—the willingness to dig deep and do what is necessary to overcome staggering odds: which is exactly what they do with Death Blow. Harsh and hectic, yet a staunch example of spine-shrinking heavy hardcore, Whatever It Takes combine mammoth breakdowns with meaty drumming and metallic riffs to create a raunchy, punishing album that serves as a true fatality to the listener, splitting skulls and smashing bones to dust without effort.
Instrumentally, Whatever It Takes are every inch the gold standard of gritty, streetwise and sinister beatdown hardcore. Built on drums that resonate as loudly and as strongly as cannon fire, and steamroll the listener like ten tank infantries. Every track sees Whatever It Takes oppressing the listener with barbaric percussion, coupled with thick, smothering bass. “Teddybear Bastard” sees the band’s low end operating quickly and fluidly, leaning more heavily on metallic influences than the sturdier backbone of traditional hardcore Whatever It Takes are built upon. “Death Blow,” or “Mainstream Dog” are more aggressive and ruthless examples of brash beatdown fury, where the drums and bass are unyielding in their assault, leaving the listener in a broken, battered heap. Tracks like “Teddybear Bastard” or “Paying Prices” see Whatever It Takes’ guitars taking precedence over the group’s grisly, grimy low end—letting loose with catchy riffs and thick, dense chugs that coat the percussion like packed mud. While the band’s metallic hardcore/beatdown dynamic is undoubtedly strong, it becomes important to mention that over the eleven track album, there is little variation besides tracks that feature more pronounced fretwork—while this is great for what the band are going for, it does leave listeners in want when it comes to the long-term replay value of the release.
A majority of Death Blow’s beatdown element comes from Whatever It Takes’ harsh, beefy vocals. Whatever It Takes adopt a no-bullshit, say-what-you-mean lyrical platform and the band’s immense vocal element backs it up with ease. “Teddybear Bastard” and “Champagne Whores” are superb examples of the band keeping things quick, with catchy harshly-barked mid-range yells—while “Death Blow” and “Bring It On” are examples of remorseless, ruthless brutality. Again, however, Whatever It Takes’ frontman isn’t a source of lyrical brilliance nor is he the most diverse vocalist the genre has ever seen—however, when it comes to honest, harsh and hellish vocal intensity, fans of beatdown music will be hard-pressed to find a better plug.
Critics of Whatever It Takes will be quick to point out the same thing that they do for nearly every beatdown hardcore band—there is little technicality and little poetry to be found within Death Blow. However, in all honesty, one has to ask—what did you really expect? Whatever It Takes provide thirty minutes or more of terrorizing, tremendous heaviness—quick enough to keep listeners moving in the pit or in the gym, yet brutal enough to inflict neck injury by way of whiplash. The band take a simple, no-shit approach to heavy music and nail it. With slightly smoother and brighter production, and maybe a little more diversity to fill out the spectrum between speedy riffs and sick breakdowns, Whatever It Takes might my have to resort for desperate measures in order to inflict a sickening death blow to the listener’s sanity.
For Fans Of: World of Pain, Dead End Tragedy, Desolated, Wolfpack
By: Connor Welsh