Monday, 17 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Erosion, "Maximum Suffering"

 By: Elliot Paisley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/10/2018
Label: Hydra Head Records


“Maximum Suffering” is a blistering portrayal of tunnel vision brutality and is far more hateful and savage than you could have ever assumed


“Maximum Suffering” DD//LP track listing:

1) Maximum Suffering
2) Everything Is Fucked
3) Need For Death
4) Human Error
5) Serpent Lust
6) The Crone
7) Deep In Hell
8) We Have Failed Us
9) Scorched Earth
10) Black Waves
11) Storm Of Steel
12) Dusted
13) Consumed

The Review:

In 2012, it was reported that Hydra Head would be closing their doors. Founded in 1993 by Aaron Turner, who would eventually go on to form Isis (or Celestial, for all intents and purposes), the label would be home to such heavyweights as Cave In, Xasthur, Jesu and Botch. It was a stamp of approval you could trust; they scarcely put out anything which was less than tremendous, and they provided a haven for those who had fallen out of love with the major-label metal being pedalled at the time – Limp Bizkit were topping the charts and Xasthur was a glorious antidote.

When news spread of the label’s closure in 2012, it was a day of mourning for all fans of underground metal. However, it would eventually prove to have been a slight exaggeration. Turner announced that the label would continue to release and reissue their past releases, and eventually it was decided they would continue to release music on a case-by-case basis. While not quite what we had all hoped for, it was a compromise we could accept.

In this case, the band is Erosion. A ‘supergroup’ of sorts, formed by 3 members of Vancouver’s favourite unsung crusty-hardcore heroes Baptists, with vocals provided by Jamie Hooper, perhaps most famous for at one time providing the harsh-vocals in the sadly-defunct heavy metal revivalists 3 Inches of Blood. On paper, this is a peculiar and curious combination – Baptists are famed for their unforgiving meld of d-beat, crust and hardcore with a black metal bleaching, whereas 3 Inches Of Blood were a triumphant tribute to old-school heavy metal, unflinching in their willingness to recreate the tropes which many mock the genre for adopting.. One would be forgiven for assuming Maximum Suffering” could limp out of the speakers as a crude mess which lacks emulsion.

The resulting album, however, is a blistering portrayal of tunnel vision brutality and is far more hateful and savage than you could have ever assumed. One glimpse at the track-list and one is confronted with a mission statement: “Everything Is Fucked”, “Need For Death”, “Human Error”, “Deep In Hell”, “We Have Failed Us”. It is abundantly clear what the socio-political outlook of this band is, and they remain unapologetic of this stance throughout the 13 tracks.

Musically, the album is more than simply an amalgam of 3 Inches of Blood and Baptists. A wretched combination of Trap Them, Entombed, Brutal Truth, Darkthrone and Infest, the sheer sound of what they produce is totally arresting. The performances on this album are all superb, with Hooper’s vocals finally able to tear in the way they threatened to while in 3 Inches of Blood, now more untamed than ever before. In his old-band, he was sharing vocal duties with Cam Pipes, whose Halford-esque wail providing a startling offset to Hooper’s shriek. Here, he is the sole vocalist, and the pressure is on to capture the audience’s attention and man the mission solo,  and it is a joy to announce he has more than stepped up to the plate and given what is perhaps the most accomplished performance of his career.

 The band is on similarity savage form, with the apocalyptic rhythm section underpinning the chaotic guitar-work. The production accents the attack, the songs aren’t written with a gentle touch, nor are they strokes of genius, but when performed with such conviction, this hardly matters at all.

The only shame of this album is timing, and that’s hardly the band’s fault. 2018, as a year, has proven the most difficult time for hardcore bands, solely due to competition and the ensuing struggle to stand out. Code Orange have popularized the genre and achieved Grammy nods by incorporating elements of IDM, industrial music and 90s alternative metal like that of Type O Negative and Pantera.

Turnstile have become the hottest commodity in the scene with their absolutely astounding sophomore effort “Time & Space”, a joyous amalgam of Trapped Under Ice, Metallica, Helmet and Jane’s Addiction. Outfits such as Employed To Serve, Palm Reader, Jesus Piece and Harm’s Way have all released diverse and critically-acclaimed albums in the last two years and so for many people, the no-frills hardcore presented on “Maximum Suffering” may fall short of the mark. 

Those people are doing themselves a disservice, as this album is one of the finest examples of pure blistering hardcore to be released in some time. By no means are Erosion reinventing the wheel, they are instead fashioning it into a buzz-saw.

If Hydra Head are going to continue being highly selective in their releases, fans are only going to remain loyal to the label if the quality is maintained. With “Maximum Suffering”, it is clear that Turner maintains his keen ear for outstanding, uncompromising music and Erosion ought to be very proud of what they have accomplished here.

“Maximum Suffering” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp