Cowards
Hoarder EP

If crossover was the result of punk and metal’s liquor fueled party hook-up, surely sludge was the junk addicted offspring born during the dark times they spent shooting tar with rusty works in an abandoned building. Sludge’s early years were spent as the musical gutter child of the vitriol and speed of punk and the heavy riffs of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and St. Vitus. There were no good times to be had, no beauty, no grandeur. But times change and the angry, self-destructive early days have given way to the current trend of sludge being synonymous with some down-right mopey sounding shit. With scads of bands endlessly raping the corpse of Isis, the telegraphed tension build ups, the muscular but limp sounding vocals, the fraught attempts at solemnity, have become as commonplace as they have become tired. Give me some fucking dirt, man! Give me some of that old time low life rage!

Thankfully, France’s Cowards have returned to take a bat to our collective jaw with Hoarder. Hoarder follows last year’s excellent debut EP Shooting Blanks and Pills, a savage fireball of sludge fury that evoked Thou, Eyehategod, and the caustic modern hardcore of Trap Them and Cursed. Shooting Blanks… was one of my favorite releases of last year and the follow-up is every bit as good. The French quartet returns sludge to its hardcore/punk roots, dark, grimy, and seething with the rage of Paris’ ill content underbelly.  Four new tracks and a cover of 16 Horsepower’s “Blessed Persistence” round out a quick and dirty fork in the eye of metal and punk.

Cowards keep it short and brutal, and wind through a variety of tempos, textures, and stylistic shifts. Down tempo dirge, fractured grooves, and flurries of blast beats are ensconced in vocalist J.H.’s hoarse roar as the songs twist and turn, never getting caught too long on any individual riff or theme. “Fork Out” breaks down from mid tempo chaos into a filthy battering riff that hits like a shiv to the spine, in and out before you realize it, and shifts into a pounding blast. “Smell of an Addict” unravels a sheet of whirring guitars and swarming drums before breaking in to something resembling a methed out version of the opening to Slayer‘s “Criminally Insane”. All the controlled chaos leads up to the closing cover of “Blessed Persistence”. 16 Horsepower’s ghostly original is slowly dragged through the gutters of Paris, a piece of pounding and caustic droning sludge that leaves nothing but ragged chunks of flesh and bitter emptiness in its wake.

Sludge wouldn’t exist without hardcore and punk, and it is heartening to see the post-rock trappings now unfortunately enmeshed in the scene tossed aside for some back to basics aggression. Cowards stand out alongside Fistula, Grime, Meth Drinker, and Black Sheep Wall bands that have turned back the clock to get to the ugly roots of the genre. Hoarder refreshingly pays tribute to the old gods of mutant punk and metal’s addled offspring and is yet another solid release from Throatruiner.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
December 6th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Luke_22

    Really good review. Need to check this out.


  2. Commented by: Cowards

    Thanks for the review.
    Just a quick addition to it, Hoarder is a Throatruiner / RVINS records co-release.

    http://throatruinerrecords.com
    http://www.ruinsrecords.com

    Cheers.


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