This is the kind of hardcore that makes my throat hurt just listening. It’s also the kind of hardcore where I can’t sit still while listening, even when tethered to headphones at work. It’s high energy, relentless and, somehow, it just never lets up. To keep coining silly phrases, this is sweaty, gasp-for-air hardcore. As each of the songs fade at their close (usually about a minute in), you find yourself asking “Will it let up for moment?”
14 Lashes caught my attention last year when it was self-released in Canada on Chain Whip Records, but I never got to it before the calendar turned. Now Drunken Sailor has released it in Europe (some with a bright yellow cover as compared to the original white). The band also released an EP in 2018.
Just like the band name implies, 14 Lashes strikes violently on all 14 songs. It’s blunt, brutal and primal. While I’m piling on the harsh descriptors here, it’s not violent on the ears. It’s loud, fast and angry but it isn’t deliberately (i.e. artistically) grating. Think of fellow Canadian punks Career Suicide but with coarse, shouted vocals.
It features throat-shredding spitfire vocals, chugging chords that alternate with buzzsaw guitars, and relentless pounding from the rhythm section, but there are melodic moments that seep in at just the right moments, giving a steady flow to keep the rage on a steady path instead of circling into a self-destructive cycle. It starts with the shout-along “Amber Alert,” followed by the spastic “HawaiiCBM.” There’s always a danger that this type of pummeling hardcore will start sounding alike after a few songs, but Chain Whip does a good job in mixing it up without taking any left turns. “Turner Street Ghost Motel” has some tempo-shift chord changes midway through, then the next cut, “Spectator” is a full-on rager. Throughout, the band mixes up the vocal attack, jumping in with gang vocals at all the right times. Besides writing good, fierce songs, the sequencing here is also important and well executed.
Though originally released a year ago, music like this can get us through 2020.