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Review: Labor Hex, Lost in Calling (Self-Released, 2018)

The members of Boston quartet Labor Hex have also been involved with Doomriders, Phantom Glue, Read Yellow, The Red Chord, and Wormwood (amongst others, I'd guess)—only two of which I had heard before, so… despite that, on the surface—that is to say, before actually listening—there was nothing about the group's debut four-song, 14-minute EP that particularly piqued my interest. But then I did listen, and found myself granting near-immediate approval to their effortless, multi-genre fusion of (predominantly) angular post-hardcore with excellently diverse, Fugazi-esque vocals and the hammering oomph of noise rock.

The dissonantly punky "Lost in Calling" sets the tone with interestingly winding guitar riffs and a powerfully central rhythm section; but the masterful "I Wanna be Ignored" is certainly the immediate standout—striking me as the perfect amalgamation of the band's influences, that high-energy drive plus weirdly catchy hooks will suck me in every time.

The slower, darker "Valentine Coast" explores alternate avenues of lush sounds and subtle panning/layering effects surrounding more head-noddingly punchy, surging rhythms; and "Red Tape" makes for another favorite through its undercurrent of gritty, mangled rock and an undeniably memorable chorus.

Recorded mostly live sans a few guitar and vocal overdubs, everything sounds great. This is a production style that I tend to prefer in terms of natural warmth and a well-balanced mix that allows each instrument to play a key role.

As with so much of what strikes me these days, it all boils down to killer songwriting, which Labor Hex achieves without losing an ounce of artistic merit. I dig the attitude of the lyrical approach, too. Everything about this EP is just fuckin' cool, man. There's a damn good chance that Lost in Calling could end up being yet another year-end favorite for me, and I absolutely would've missed it had the band not reached out, so I'm very appreciative that they did!

Though it deserves better, the EP appears to be a digital-only release. Snag it as a name your price download via Bandcamp, or seek it out through your streaming platform of choice…

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