Turnstile – ‘GLOW ON’

By Sean Reid

With 2018’s ‘Time & Space’, Turnstile put themselves at the forefront of modern hardcore. Over its 25 minutes, the Baltimore-based collective showed their ability to be forward-thinking, exploring areas beyond their hardcore roots – and it’s for this reason that follow-up ‘GLOW ON’ is so highly anticipated.

For their third full-length, the quintet continue to weave their way through experimentation while maintaining a bombastic hardcore spine. From the outset, ’MYSTERY’ exemplifies this experimental approach, when hazy keys segue into sharp hardcore punk guitars and Brendan Yates’ bellows; throw in a whirling guitar solo, and you’re left with a thrilling opener.

‘GLOW ON’ is full of energetic songs that barely make it past the three-minute mark. Fans will have already blasted tracks such as ‘HOLIDAY’ and ’T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION’) repeatedly in recent weeks, and these are accompanied by punchy numbers like the pulsating ‘ENDLESS’ and ‘WILD WRLD’ – the latter is just one of several tracks that see drummer Daniel Fang battle to be the centre of attention. Likewise, ‘DON’T PLAY’ brilliantly blends colourful drum patterns, Latin-esque piano keys, and handclaps with Turnstile’s groove-driven hardcore thrash. A special mention has to be made for the high-pitched, celebratory “YEAAHHHH” that kicks off the track.

For the most part, there is very little time to rest up. ‘UNDERWATER BOI’ is one of the more intriguing tracks. Washed out guitars, distant atmospherics ringing out, and a steady tempo provide a summery moment of reflection. ‘ALIEN LOVE SONG’ dives into a sea of reverb, providing one of the album’s slowest moments with Dev Hynes (better known as Blood Orange) making the first of two guest spots with a spoken word part. His second comes on album closer ‘LONELY DEZIRES’, which begins as a sturdy punk number before fading into dizzying keys. Elsewhere, ‘NEW HEART DESIGN’ throws in new wave yacht rock guitars into the mix.

Throughout ‘GLOW ON’, Yates paints a reflective picture; one where he seems lost, guessing his purpose. It explains why all the spaced-out moments make sense. One moment you’re living life full steam ahead, the next you’re momentarily second-guessing who, what, and why. Overall, these experimental twists and turns are beneficial to what Turnstile are best at – being a rip-roaring hardcore band that relentlessly stomps. Take ‘FLY AGAIN’, for example – its thick bass groove and striking guitar chords merely amplify Yates’ yells in its chorus.

Turnstile are fearless, pulling in styles and sounds far out of the realm of hardcore and moulding them to sound organic in their inclusion. ‘GLOW ON’ takes what they have done before, and elevates it to another level. Alongside Grammy-winning producer Mike Elizondo, known for his work with Dr Dre, Eminem, and Twenty One Pilots, Turnstile have produced a dynamic and anthemic hardcore record that confidently bulldozes the walls of the genre. It’s a feat that is sure to expand their reach, while withstanding a sturdy DIY ethos.

SÊAN REID

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