There will come a time in which any particular music genre that flourishes to some degree in the pop world in which it must literally face its own music and eat itself in order to complete its ultimately pointless journey from obscurity to awesomeness to a more indifference-based obscurity in which someone else other than a creator profits off said creator’s false greatness. In that case the funeral orchestra is often an agile band that parades about misleadingly as a parody of a cliched genre. In 1978 the reaper had beckoned the call of punk’s death time and time again, this time around it was celebrated at a UCLA dorm talent show in which five students took the stage, under the moniker of The Urinals, and riffed most amusingly on the intense terseness of punk at that present state, much to the delight of the audience and the disdain of the competitors. In time the five-piece dwindled to an effective trio that played a skeleton-thin hardcore with articulate lyrics and occasional forays into psychadelic rock. To add to that, they were covered by the Minutemen, so they were, to sum it up as best I can, awesome.
It is now three decades since that obscure, but nonetheless crucial event. Metalcore, though certainly not “punk” by any means, reigns, and has taken quite a long time to croak in spite of existing in a time that moves at a decidedly faster pace that the times of The Urinals. Since the more creative, but reluctant, forbearers of this genre are broken up or simply not playing that particular sound anymore, crap has taken their places, garnering debutant-like attention, lowering standards and, though common sense makes this claim dubious, making actual American currency for their work. At the forefront of such a movement is Ferret Music, that Jersey hardcore label that is taking Trustkill’s place as the center for post-youth crew moshcore as Trustkill tries to take Victory’s place for expanding their roster based on lame cultural trends that, I’m told, are based in the punk and independent ethos. With the exception of Zao, who despite having zero original members, can still do good work, I’ve become complacent in my attention towards other bands on Ferret’s roster. Inspiration fails to register when I listen or hear about such bands, which, admittedly, could partly be attributed to age. Nevertheless, when I noticed that Heavy Heavy Low Low was on Ferret I was surprised, but it’s quite refreshing.
Just from judging by their psychedelic children’s book cover, there is an odd, but curiosity-piquing personality in the works here. But HHLL certainly carry a significant trait that links them to bands on that label, they’re heavy, perhaps heavier than most of their label mates. HHLL’s riffs are, at times, repetitive and have the tendency to pound and throb. At other times the band has a technical side reflecting the habits of past hardcore bands of their ilk including abrupt changes in rhythms, time signatures, etc., not to mention atmospheric variations that veer off into space rock and noise territory. HHLL’s vocal identity is one of the more straightforward aspects of the band, presented in stripped down screams and spoken hushes. Lyrics, I’m afraid, are not easy to make out, aside from this gem, pending I made it out right: “I chop my head off and make love for hours and hours/ and I sew it back on at the neck to see what it says …” Louis-Ferdinand Celine would be stoked. Impressively, and with the exception of the 16 minute noise meditation “Please, That Bitch Will Outlive Us All” at the end, most of these songs barely clock in at the three and a half minute length, in fact, a majority of these songs range from one to two minutes.
One theory you could formulate about this band is that, although there are many enjoyable traits of theirs that are genuine, can this also be somewhat of a riff on modern hardcore? A parody of some of its most indulgent offenses? Hardcore and emo bands alike dress their dead-serious songs in nonsensical often non-sequitur titles, which was cooler when Botch and Drowningman did it, but it makes less sense to see it now — ditto to the stream-of-consciousness poetics. The mathy anti-song structures have a more fluid, human touch to them rather than the cold, robotic efficiency of some other bands which makes it appear that HHLL are fucking around and having some fun with form as opposed to just trying to sandwich as many riffs as one can in the time that they have and unnecessarily flex skills. Perhaps these are not the things of outright mockery, but rather a difference in vision. HHLL are not the serious types it seems, but they are serious artists who see the possibilities in a form gone stiflingly simplistic. What results is an album that is mired less in predictable acrobatics and impenetrable melodrama. If anything, in the event that breakdowns are, once and for all, erased from hardcore’s existence, one need only to look to Heavy Heavy Low Low — certainly others — for proper adulation, or as Factory Record’s Tony Wilson might have called them had he ever had the chance, Heavy Heavy [pause] Low Low.
Botch – We Are the Romans
Daughters – Hell Songs
Converge – Jane Doe