When it comes to hardcore, few scenes rival that of Chicago’s. Home to Al Capone, a rising homicide rate and some of the most pissed off hardcore in existence, the city has made a name for itself for its output of excessively heavy music.
Drowning Drowning’s downtempo approach to the hardcore genre is skullcrushingly heavy. From the ominous riff that opens the band’s debut EP – the aptly-titled Prey For Me, released earlier this year – it is evident that Drowning know what they are doing when it comes to hardcore. Throughout the twenty-something minutes of hardcore presented here, we see the band mix the more groovy metallic hardcore verses that we have all come to know and love with some of the heaviest beatdown in existance, in a similar vein to the UK’s Six Ft. Ditch or Europe’s Nasty. Lyrically, vocalist Bryan attacks authority and religion with lyrics such as “Kill anyone who gets in your way and pushes their beliefs/I don’t care about your consequences or your ten commandments.” The band recently released a video for the latest single off of their upcoming full-length “Purgatory”, so keep your eyes peeled when it drops in Autumn later this year.
No Zodiac are all about one thing – the mosh. Whilst Drowning mix it up with the occasional gang chant or two-step section, No Zodiac do no such thing. What their latest offering – 2012‘s Population Control – provides is nothing but beatdown after beatdown after beatdown. While some may find this off-putting, it couldn’t be better. No Zodiac are the kings of misanthropy – lyrics like “Seven billion people, seven billion too fuckin’ many,” mixed with the criminal image the band presents in its videos (ski-masks are a MUST) and the Satanic themes are what set No Zodiac apart from others in the Chicago scene. Population Control sets the listener’s brain to “crowdkill” and leaves absolutely no survivors. None heavier.
Harm’s Way While Harm’s Way’s first couple of albums were run-of-the-mill hardcore punk, 2011’s “Isolation” cemented the dark and eerie brand of hardcore the band is now known for. Album opener “Scrambled” boasts an incredibly gritty bass tone and a repetitive drum beat that sounds more like a call to arms that anything else, before the band add a dissonant guitar melody over the top which sets the tone for the album. Whilst the band aren’t as heavy as those mentioned previously, the groovy riffs and the incredibly good song writing more than makes up for it. Vocalist James Pligge proves to be the band’s secret weapon as his vocals are absolutely commanding. Whether you love them or hate them, Harm’s Way are here to stay, and their live shows will make you swallow your teeth if you’re caught off-guard.
Weekend Nachos It would not be fair to talk about Chicago’s scene without mentioning Weekend Nachos. While their name may sound more akin to pop-punk, nothing could be further from the truth. Weekend Nachos adopt a far different approach to hardcore than their peers: Instead of playing beatdown after beatdown, the band opt to use speed in order to get their messages across. Their latest album, 2011‘s “Worthless” takes all the best aspects of their previous releases, updates and refines them, resulting in one of the most satisfying hardcore releases of that year. Album opener “Hometown Hero” lasts just over a minute, and the refrain of “Get fucked” sets the tone for the album’s lyrics. The song transitions from something ACxDC might release into a slow mosh part (think of Ceremony’s “Ruined” LP). Whilst the band are far from being the most innovative or technical band in the scene at the minute, the anger that seeps through the band’s catalogue reminds us why the band are one of the best hardcore bands alive at the moment.