The first album from Grand Rapids, Michigan’s hyper-literate post-hardcore luminaries La Dispute in four years is due out in March. Last week, the band premiered an ethereal introduction track “ROSE QUARTZ” followed by a trademark, instant-classic song for longtime fans. Characterized by a quiet-loud dynamic familiar to any veteran of the genre, replete with the lyrical themes (interstates, water) that make up much of La Dispute’s catalog, the music was debuted with an animated music video:
It’s going to be a long wait to March 22nd. The album, Panorama, evidently focuses on the drive vocalist Jordan Dreyer and his partner used to make from Grand Rapids to Lowell, MA, where the latter grew up. Right off the bat, it sounds a little more aggressive and a lot closer to earlier albums than 2014 release Rooms of the House which would come to a relief to those of us enjoying the spate of emo revival and new post-hardcore acts but a little dismayed when by the third album they soften up and stop the throat-destroying, primal scream therapy that got us in the game in the first place (cough… Pianos Become the Teeth).
In regards to throat-destroying, I could not be more amped up about Orange County, California’s Forewarned. Their four-track debut release Unforgiving Years is without a doubt some of the most loudly aggressive but elegantly dynamic, layered hardcore I’ve heard in years. There’s real, passionate musicianship here, carefully highlighted by some great mixing and production work, but the lyricism is what helps underscore a lot of the intensity.
Despite adhering to what could be charitably described as a “toxic death wish” lifestyle, vegan straight-edge hardcore is one of my absolute first loves and what initiated me into punk rock as a whole when I was young. The righteous principles, the gang vocals, and above all the “play violence” of the raucous live performances is something I grew up with in Orange County and Denver, and something that helped shape my politics. To hear something this vital come out of the area I’ve been removed from, nearly fifteen years later, is such a blast both sonically and personally.
In sort of an inverse Charles Bronson, Forewarned has a lot to say about their scene, history, politics, veganism, and straight-edge without becoming a caricature easily lampooned by The Hard Times. The music backs up their messaging, and appeals to anyone looking for something heavy, fast, and raw, but crafted by guys who obviously know how to put together anthemic, pit-ready songs. Dueling, angular guitar work, concussive drumming, and pulsing, driving bass provide a ruthless backdrop for an aural avalanche of vocal chords shredded to their limit. “Destructive Creation”, my favorite track on the EP, ends with a wrenching question “is this a hell of our own making?” and a breakdown that I’ve spent two weeks fantasizing having my nose broken to.
Without a doubt, I’m excited for shows and holding out for a tour that hits Colorado. Be supportive! I highly recommend you buy the tape from Contraband once you sample it in the Bandcamp playlist below, where you can also download and stream Unforgiving Years.