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As I’ve talked about on this site before, the “power-violence” hardcore scene in Rock Hill, SC is no joke right now. I’m not sure what this power-violence has to do with the spazz-core of the early 90s that relied on mathy, almost jazz influenced burst of grindcore but I guess I’m the wrong person to ask about all that. What I do know is that many hardcore and metal musicians around this area began attending the Converge/Cursed/Disfear school of blackened hardcore and began expanding into more crusty, desolate sounds from there. I personally think its kind of cool to still be able to imagine a heavy music “scene” in the day and age where everything is available to everyone everywhere in the world through the internet, so its interesting to me that a certain style of music seems to be flourishing in one area in particular. Rock Hill’s Narratives aren’t as new to this as some of these bands are though, they formed in 2008 with a more Coalesce-influenced approach that they stripped down into a more extreme punk attack. They’ve had plenty of time to grow and promote themselves and have recently been touring the east coast, their first release on a label “Hell is Here” just might be their introduction to the rest of the world.
Brevity has always been a big thing with these bands and “Hell is Here” is certainly no exception (this release is a whopping 8 minutes and 29 seconds). If you’re familiar with this style of hardcore then you already know that this music’s selling point has never been the amount of content that you per release, but Narratives also don’t waste any time getting their point across.
Most bands in this genre come right out of the gate and pummel you with speed from the very beginning, but Narratives takes the more dramatic downtempo approach in opener “Bearing”. The bleak opening chords sound like they were scraped out of the bottom of a gutter and the track does a nice job of building an uneasy tension. This is of course before the full on barrage of “Birth” comes in, a song featuring a steady pounding neanderthal riff played over changing blast beats and Dustin Dickerson’s raspy and familiar sounding screams. The song then transfers into a more traditional “D-beat” punk feel, which carries over into the next track “Grief”. “Grief” is steady but features some pretty mean riffing while the low end grinds and churns beneath, and the vocals sound venemous and pissed off like they should. The next track “Death” features more dissonant, blackened hardcore riffing over artillery round drums, before the track slows down into an almost doom classic Converge style ending. The final track “Hell” offers more of the same but gives a good picture of the band’s full range and what they are capable of. It ended up being my personal favorite because of the uneasy chord changes in the final riff. At 2:28 its the longest track on the EP, and honestly I could have taken more of it.
There are certainly strong moments that shine through here and there and show that Narratives know how to throw down in the modern power-violence game, but I can’t help but think that with alot of these bands that offering more per song would leave more staying power and a bigger impression. Yes I understand the whole point here is that its punk and it isn’t supposed to overstay its welcome, but I’d like to hear more of what these guys could do if they expanded their songwriting from the short bursts of violence that these less than 3 minutes tracks give. If you’re a fan of aforementioned bands like Converge, Disfear, Cursed, or Trap Them you absolutely shouldn’t miss this one.
You can stream Hell is Here here:
You can order the 7′ vinyl from Frequency Deleted Records:
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