I got behind on covering Upstate Records' output toward the end of last year, but wanted to make sure and give a quick shout to their first release of 2020 that has really kicked me in the face. Following a four-song demo in the spring of 2019, Bovice (Chicago) kicks off this 24-minute split with some meaty metallic hardcore that boasts a great sense of groove and some vocal attitude that's somewhat reminiscent of fellow Chicagoans Drowning. While definitely coming from the hardass side of things, it's not just burly beatdown breaks nonstop, however. There are a few faster-paced traditional hardcore influences that take on more of a subtle thrash twist, a handful of Biohazard-esque gang vocal outbursts, dashes of melody, and even the occasional fit of harder-edged grinding metal. They're working with a dense mix that offers a pulsing bass tone that seamlessly beefs up the core without suffocating any of the details, too. The overall vibe is really solid, and I commend the band for carving out their own identity from a vast pool of metal-leaning hardcore resources, 'cause that's something that too often feels like it's missing these days. I'll be looking forward to hearing more...
Four crushers from Hurtpiece (Pittsburgh) are up next. Apparently these musicians have been rather active, seeing as the lineup includes current and former members of Acolyte, Circle of Caïna, Vow of Hatred, and several others. The group debuted with an EP last summer through Filled With Hate Records, which should provide some indication of what to expect here. Every track runs two to three minutes of chunky, midpaced beatdown-type aggression with loads of back-and-forth palm-muted power chord rhythms broken up by quick flashes of churning death metal riffs. The vocals, too, lean toward that almost death metal style of strained, guttural yelling. Listening to this stuff, you get the feeling that this band could transition into a slammin' death metal outfit with complete ease. I should also note that the recording is super crisp and clear here. Not too shabby at all.
I still need to pick up a physical copy of this sucker, so I can't speak to those aspects, but Upstate Records continues to rack up one hell of an impressive discography with Flatline. By far one of the finest hardcore labels runnin' right now...
- Upstate Records (CD)
- Bandcamp (CD, mp3)
- Spotify (stream)