Review: Just Ice, Just Ice (Moo Cow Records, 2020)

Moo Cow Records has been steadily outputting quality releases since 1993, including superb selections from the likes of Dive, Atlas Shrugged, Temperance, Disembodied, and many more. The label has picked up the pace a bit over the past year (don't miss the killer Nox Novacula 7"), and their latest is the debut vinyl release from Rimouski, Québec, Canada's Just Ice. This four-song, 10-minute 7" compiles—in chronological order—one song ("Sleep") from the group's 2017 debut, "I am the Youth" and "38" from 2018's Cosmic Latte EP, and the "Prime Time" single from last summer.

I'm not gonna lie, I don't get the whole alien mask/"Hardcore band from outer space." concept, but whatever that's about, it doesn't extend to Just Ice's music or lyrics in any obvious manner, so I don't care. This is an extremely solid EP of crunchy and well-composed metallic hardcore with all the energetic bounce and groove of early Turnstile (i.e. before they started getting all wacky and exploratory). It's also worth mentioning that the lyrical direction here carries a bit more vitriol:

How many times will I be taunted by the devil?
It's only a matter of time before I crack
Let those pulsations go inside out
Entering hell to put it upside down

I had checked out Just Ice before—look, any band with a sick graffiti logo is gonna get at least one click outta me—and was intrigued, but probably didn't pay enough attention. Spinning this 7" as a sampler of their output to date, however, I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more. Strong production with a good bass presence, just enough vocal variety to avoid sounding like hundreds of their contemporaries, and the material's getting slightly more creative and adventurous over time without deviating from the core foundation of their approach.

The EP is housed in a nice-looking double-sided sleeve including all of the lyrics and a Bandcamp download code. With the initial pressing limited to a mere 100 copies on semi-transparent violet vinyl, my guess would be that stock is already getting low. I won't be surprised if this band starts to make some noise later this year, so pick this sucker up now while you still can...

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