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Raw Blow, Slow Choke (Social Cancer, 2014)

Released by Social Cancer, Slow Choke is the excellent debut EP from Boston quartet Raw Blow. The band includes former members of Bravo Fucking Bravo, Furnace, Luau, and Now Denial; and herein unloads five tracks in less than 10 minutes of punkishly emo-tinged grungy post-hardcore that's really catchy and memorable without relying on typical verse/chorus structures, which is a nice twist.

The title track sucked me in right away with its impeccable intro of big, driving power chords (a superb tactic that reappears throughout, most notably in the equally awesome "Most Days"), melodic lead lines, and emphatic vocal harmonies; before the faster-paced attack of "Buzzards," which has sort of a pop-punk type of lean to it—alongside dashes of added discordance, as well as some passages that ease up on the distortion.

"All Kinds of Garbage" is the most abrasive track: all over the place from jarring dissonance and blasting percussion, to droning feedback, metallic riffing, layers of singing and shouting, and a Propagandhi-ish take on bursting hardcore. "Don't Try" then offers another quick slab of midpaced, grungily rockin' whatever-you-want-to-call-it, with great use of "whoa-oh" backing vocals for added catchiness.

Nice recording, too—striking a perfect balance between the warm density of the guitars and the pulsing, subtly dirty basslines; the percussion sounds nice and natural; the vocals aren't too far out front; etc. I also dig the lyrics, which are bitter, pessimistic, and peppered with sarcasm—without being tactlessly blunt:

I walk in circles. I lie awake in my bed. The Earth is humming. The sound is making my head swollen, vacant, wasted, nothing... never mind. It doesn't matter anyway.

I speak of nothing while staring off into space. This all-consuming stupid void, an endless, vacant, wasted no one... never mind. It doesn't matter anyway. We are all we are: an excuse for the inexcusable.

Don't try.

Fans of Superheaven and the like should absolutely appreciate this—though I must compliment Raw Blow for so successfully working with a much wider palette of influences. I'm very much looking forward to hearing more.

I don't see the cassette for sale anywhere, but you can stream Slow Choke on Spotify, and it's available as a name your price download on Bandcamp, too!

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