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Quick Hits: Trip Machine Laboratories—Piece of Mind, Life’s Question, Soul Blind

Piece of Mind, Unfulfilled (2020)

I believe Tulsa, OK's Piece of Mind first released Unfulfilled digitally last summer, but it finally surfaced on vinyl earlier this year. Unfortunately, the band played their last show and broke up right around that same time, so it would seem that these six tracks will act as their final output. Every time I write about Piece of Mind I mention '90s greats such as Harvest and Turmoil, and that still applies. As expected, this is some seriously high-level metalcore loaded with chugging force, scathing dissonance, viciously yelled vocals, and a touch of dark atmosphere befitting of the bleak lyrics—all delivered with chunky-yet-crisp production. It's easy for acts of this nature to get lost in a jarring mishmash of riff-soup aggression, but Piece of Mind was always lethally focused. Gone too soon...

Unfulfilled is still available on red (limited to 100) or violet (limited to 123) 12" direct from the label.

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Life's Question, A Tale of Sudden Love and Unforgettable Heartbreak (2020)

This 12" from Life's Question out of Chicago combines two prior EPs (2019's A Tale of Sudden Love and Unforgettable Heartbreak and Cursed the Will to Dream from 2018) of crunchy metallic hardcore reminiscent of Leeway and the Cro-Mags—complete with sleek solos and raging bass work—with some of the energy and melody of early Turnstile. A few of the more somber segments even take on a Crown of Thornz-esque form of surging post-hardcore. I had checked this band out once or twice before and they definitely piqued my interest. Musically, this is dead-on the type of thing that I totally flip for. The vocals are a little dirtier and almost like metal-punk at times (at least in terms of attitude)—occasionally flirting with some gruff singing. I can understand the hype surrounding this outfit, especially with regard to the overall musicianship and vibe. Very promising, indeed.

Vinyl has been moving pretty quick on this one, but you can still nab copies on white (limited to 193) or red (limited to 234) vinyl. Even though this particular collection isn't on Spotify, you can stream the original two EPs from the band's page.

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Soul Blind, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (2020)

Prior to this, I had only given Hudson Valley, NY's Soul Blind a cursory listen, and that was a mistake. Greatest Hits Vol. 1 is either a four-song 7" (five-song download) compiling two prior cassettes or an 11-song CD representing the band's complete discography to date—including one brand new song. This is some of that heavy style of grungy, semi-shoegaze that's becoming more popular these days, though few artists do it this well. The songs are fairly short; the guitars aren't drowning in effects, so they're much harder-hitting; and the vocals are neither overly buried nor monotonous, they actually really open up and soar on occasion. Overall, there's just enough movement and catchiness to counter the dreary atmospherics amidst powerful swells of heaviness. This one's my favorite of the bunch, for sure.

The CD is a no-brainer purchase for me, but the 7" is still available on white vinyl (limited to 220) if you act quickly. Again, this exact collection isn't on Spotify, but the majority of the tracks can still be streamed as separate EPs.

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Also be sure to check out Trip Machine's Bandcamp page for some digital-only titles that include reissues of Dissolve's Dismantle EP, Hope and Suicide's Razorblade Smile, etc. You can seek those releases out through Spotify, too!