Red Terror – Red Terror

By Matthew Wilson

Hardcore bands share a common ancestry, and reading through the influences of most new bands in the scene can sometimes feel like a checklist, your mind easing into autopilot as you expect certain bands to appear on the list. Bad Brains? Cool. Black Flag? Check. Dead Kennedys? Isn’t Jello Biafra running for office now? Red Terror are no different in this regard. Fugazi, Gallows, Misfits, Comeback Kid, they’re all here. Like most bands in modern hardcore, Red Terror wear a healthy blend of common influences on their sleeves.

Which makes it all the more unexpected with how immediate, accomplished and innovative Red Terror are on their five song debut EP. Equal parts satirical and political, with a mean streak of cynical humour running throughout, Red Terror are also gut-punchingly heavy, possessing an intelligence to their songwriting that separates them from the pack.

Red Terror seem to draw most heavily from Bad Brains and Fugazi. The raw visceral power of Bad Brains is present on ‘Whitehawk’ and ‘Parasite,’ with their cranked guitars and vocals at the point of blowout, but it’s also mixed with angular guitar work and moments of quiet, heavy bass driven verses, reminiscent of Ian Mackaye’s post-hardcore troupe. But Red Terror take these influences and create their own character. Whilst Fugazi’s politics are well known, it’s difficult to see them opening a record with a 44 second long D-beat song called ‘Jeremy Corbyn Ate My Homework’.

In contrast, ‘Society’ is a more lyrically developed song, with old school hardcore progressions mixed with some Cancer Bats-esque heavy riffing, bubbling away beneath the surface. Closer ‘Parasite’ is a scathing attack on Theresa May and her record in office, with vocalist Joey Reeves screaming “she’s gonna take your human rights!” over diminished chords, menacing basslines and a wild sonic assault.

The highlight of the record is the hilarious, cynical satire of ‘Pop Music From The 21st Century’. Playing on mainstream pop music’s obsession with pedalling both eternal romance and post-breakup empowerment, vocalist Joey Reeves sums up the last decade of pop music with the chorus of “baby, go fuck yourself, and I never wanna see you in hell”. It’s an aggressively catchy pop song that plays on the idea that pop music can’t make up its mind over whether or not it wants people to obsess over each other, or use the damage done by jilted lovers as fuel for the fire of self-improvement. Reeves sings about a relationship that starts, ends and finishes in the space of a few lines; “you become obsessed, then you never wanna be alone”. It’s funny, catchy and gets better with each spin.

Clocking in at less than 15 minutes and full of energy, wit and innovation, this record is a staggering statement of intent and begs repeated listens. Great hardcore, like any genre of music, is more than the sum of its parts, and Red Terror are forging their own distinct path forwards.

MATTHEW WILSON

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