REVIEW ROUND-UP: Drain, Weathers, Death Goals, Harroway

Artwork for Drain’s ‘Living Proof’ - a heavily stylised image of the destruction cause by a huge wave


Living Proof

Living Proof is Drain’s audition to be inducted into the pantheon of hardcore greats, a feat that seems more swollen with interest now than ever before. Bear in mind, we’re only just into May, and there’s already been about half-a-dozen hardcore bands touted as a ‘next big thing’ to ‘push the genre forward’. And while most have certainly shown glimpses of that greatness—which don’t feel totally seasoned yet, but hey ho—it’s probably worth considering who’s really ready to sit on that particular throne. As for Drain, they’re one of the more straightforward candidates of the current crop, but Living Proof is also an extremely solid showcase of them wringing as much as possible from it.

And they aren’t so straightforward it’s immovable either. There’s the cover of Descendents’ Good Good Things that opts for brighter, melodic punk, and further still is Intermission, led by rapper Shakewell over a sizzling bass rumble and hip-hop knock. It’s the kind of pivot that’s barely tied to anything, but goes deep into the street-level kinship that current waves of hardcore has. Drain can bring that out of themselves, largely through leaving much of the grime and gristle intact. At their best, they’re gnarled in how FTS (KYS) or Weight Of The World chug along and leave rubble spraying in every direction. In essence, it’s akin to the urbanised sound of old-school heavy-hitters like Sick Of It All or Madball, now with a swagger and sneer that’s decidedly more modern in feel.

Honestly, as a vehicle for yanking that classic hardcore sound into a scene where it clearly has legs to thrive, Living Proof leaves few complaints. Drain come across as sufficiently unkempt and hostile, in Sammy Ciaramitaro‘s spluttering, untethered vocal delivery (meant in an entirely complimentary way) and the windmilling, spin-kicking ferocity lodged into most of the writing. On that note, the lack of real innovation here feels deliberate. Like their genre forefathers, Drain are drilling into primal, raucous angst that, with suitable intensity, can do a lot just on its own. And that’s basically what Living Proof is, minimising wasted space and hitting its beats with enough force to punch holes clear through them.

Maybe it’s not the most enlightening experience then, but that’s not really what you’re here for, is it? Drain are well aware of that themselves, and instead opt for a strain of hardcore muscle as pure as possible. It makes for one of the more fully-formed of the newer names around at the minute, and like most of the others already, the live environment is where this will be its most white-hot. Perhaps it’s most accurate to say that, among the cumulative hardcore environment, Drain act more as a strong piece that a defined spearhead. And that’s totally fine; regardless of whether a door is blown open by sheer force or something new and unforeseen, it’s still blown open all the same. • LN

For fans of: Madball, Knocked Loose, Sick Of It All

‘Living Proof’ by Drain is released on 5th May on Epitaph Records.

Artwork for Weathers’ ‘Are We Having Fun?’ - a car driving into a body of water


Are We Having Fun?

As the 2020s continue to tear down and reconstitute pop-rock as a shambling, oft-directionless Frankenstein’s monster, spare a thought for the bands who can actually get it right. Weathers have been by no means a standout in the past, but in terms of mixing alt-pop polish with grunge’s heavier palette of riffs, they’re more accustomed to it than most who make the attempt. And yet, on Are We Having Fun?, they’re still about a hair away from being great, even if it is far less derailing than the norm.

It’s mainly a case of tone, and how Weathers’ particular fixation on this sour, sad-sack personality can begin to run its course. When themes and ideas are more readily recycled like on I’m Just Sayin’ and Carsick, the filler that reveals itself is rather blatant, especially when heavier leaning on the slacker-pop aesthetic can subsume a stronger or more vital pop nous. They’re far better when said sourness is balanced with a dash of salt for some more kick; ALL CAPS and Drama Queen bite down more heavily, and therefore leave some deeper impressions. The pettiness on Are We Having Fun? actually leads to its best moments, and Cameron Boyer has enough of a sneer to deliver it while avoiding too much of a performative aspect.

It’s not at equilibrium for the most part, but at least Weathers know the value in really launching into something like this. Where opener One Of A Kind initially heralds some of the overweight, overworked side of this kind of alt-pop, a big, boisterous hook of this calibre can properly pull things back. Likewise, the synthwave leanings of She Hates Me can be a bit lumpen (which is wholly rectified on the knifelike electro-pop of Drama Queen), but again, a towering chorus can do a lot. It’s rarely fantastic stuff, but Weathers’ aptitude for this sort of thing is sufficient enough, at any rate. There’s enough to the album that keeps them on track, even when some of their creative swings don’t exactly pan out.

And while that leads to mostly a cautious recommendation, the hit-and-miss nature of alt-pop in this vein means it still is one. Cherry-picking the best moments is ultimately the way to go, but Are We Having Fun? isn’t too deeply unlikable at any point to turn anyone off. It’s a decent version of a sound that frequently falls below that, and one that Weathers typically have some good fortune in adopting. So to answer the question posed by the title—a bit, yeah. • LN

For fans of: Waterparks, The Maine, American Teeth

‘Are We Having Fun?’ by Weathers is released on 5th May on Sumerian Records.

Artwork for Death Goals’ ‘A Garden Of Dead Flowers’ - a heavily tattooed figure in a yellow, flowery shirt with their arm and head resting on a toilet seat

Death Goals

A Garden Of Dead Flowers

Opening lines don’t often wear their incisive intentions more clearly than “This body is a temple to trauma”. Indeed, the typical discord of the mathcore sound only serves to amplify Death Goals’ sentiment further, but also give it the knifelike edges to slice through the noise around it. They’re lodged within a style that doesn’t typically go for great variety (somewhat paradoxically to its own ‘progressive notions’), and A Garden Of Dead Flowers tries to combat that for something definitely stronger within it. They aren’t just keeping pace; there’s something inherently more gripping about what Death Goals are getting at, and it rarely lets go.

It can mostly be found in what’s in that aforementioned line, and how it carries through the album. A Garden Of Dead Flowers is irrepressibly about queer release, a lot of that coming from feelings of oppression, dysphoria and self-loathing that stem from a wider world deeming you ‘abnormal’. The recurrent images of mirrors and reflections and the taut, crushing intensity make for a powerful pair, especially when both Harry Bailey and George Milner deliver those vocal missives. But there’s also greater dimensionality to be found too, be that in stories of woodland romances on P.A.N.S.Y, or undercurrents of self-acceptance sowed on the title track, and subsequently woven through the album.

After all, release comes in many forms, and Death Goals’ favouring of nailbomb-esque directness can heighten every mood they steer into. The album ends up lean and metallic without sacrificing its internal chaos. Serrated howls could’ve come straight from Dillinger on a track like I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead (Taking A Bullet For You), tied to incensed eruptions barely holding themselves together on Loveless and Death Goals In Cursive. There’s also the slightly blackened touches amid the slicing of Ultraviolence and If I’m The Enemy Then Who’s The Protagonist?, and the pepped-up chants, percussion and guitar squalling of Faux Macho taken straight out of SeeYouSpaceCowboy’s sasscore mould. It’s an impressively dynamic collection of songs here, held under the mathcore umbrella while prodding and reshuffling the formulae to their own will.

All of that builds A Garden Of Dead Flowers into what it is—a statement of intent that puts Death Goals among a high-end contingent of forward-thinking, honest, heavy music. As it grows and reveals more of itself with each listen, it feels like a more and more impressive feat. It’s akin to Pupil Slicer before them in that way, among many others; both they and Death Goals are so rooted in their earnestness and radicalised desire for personhood, and the results are more or less the same. In other words, don’t be surprised if Death Goals are mathcore’s next unavoidable breakthrough. • LN

For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Pupil Slicer, The Callous Daoboys

‘A Garden Of Dead Flowers’ by Death Goals is released on 5th May on Prosthetic Records.

Artwork for Harroway’s ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ - a figure in the middle of dense collection of clouds


I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore

Opening up the promo for a band I haven’t encountered before always brings a sense of anticipation and intrigue as to what hidden gems await to be heard. The Sydney based metalcore outfit Harroway deliver what you’d expect from a metalcore act, but with an extra something thrown into the mix. Their debut EP, I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, could easily be mistaken for a release from a more seasoned band. For a debut, this is pretty epic.

Kicking off with Origin, a particularly striking element of Harroway’s sound is their use of electronics. Across the release obnoxious arpeggiators, intense synth leads, and abrasive textures are all positioned wonderfully high up in the mix to really make their presence known. Behind the immense wall of sound, the narrative explores borderline personality disorder (BPD) from the very personal perspectives of vocalist Matt Banks and guitarist Josh Gemmal. The somewhat chaotic, disjointed and heightened musical arrangement and performances illustrate this message rather aptly, and while there are aspects of darkness there are most definitely aspects of light. Each song on I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore shows off a different side to Harroway’s character.

Burn It All brings a powerful anthemic chorus with a contrasting dynamic between the harmonising clean vocals and guttural harsh. Subtly driving the momentum of the chorus, while interjecting a lighter tone among the surrounding heavier and distorted instruments, is the leading clean guitar melody. It’s details like this that elevate their music. Once More, again, showcases something different. With a delicate opening initially comprising of a cleaner guitar melody and harsh vocals, this combination makes for an intense yet emotional and minimalist sound. Building up into electronic percussion and ethereal orchestration the atmosphere develops beautifully before the heavy instruments break through and add a burst of power. A burst of brass and haunting choir parts across the track creates further drama and grandeur. Once More concludes the EP with a bang as Harroway unleash their all in one impactful song.

Harroway have created in I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, a ridiculously polished release for a debut EP. They clearly have a talent for song writing that is both catchy and appealing while incorporating so many different textures and tones to convey a particular mood. • HR

For fans of: Architects, Currents, Make Them Suffer

‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ by Harroway is out now.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

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