You’d certainly be forgiven if, like me, you initially assumed Cülo were a Hispanic punk band. I was told they hail from Chicago, IL—a place known for having one the most heavily Latino-populated hardcore scenes in the country—and, well, their name is, after all, a Spanish word. Upon hearing their first 7”, Nuke Abuse, I quickly realized that all the song titles and lyrics—the ones I could understand anyway—were in English. Confused, I decided to do a little research. As it turns out, Cülo are actually four white dudes from Elgin, IL—technically a suburb. I have to admit: a younger, idealistically naïve version of me very well may have dismissed a band based on such knowledge. Now, as a seasoned veteran of this game, I can proclaim confidently (and with only a tiny percentage of irony): the suburbs got it goin’ on!
The first track on Toxic Vision, “Brain Cavity,” starts off with clamorous drumming, lasting a few pounding moments before the guitars come screeching aboard, quickly transforming into a rockin’ albeit brief solo which paves the way for a full-frontal onslaught of shouting-in-your-face basement hardcore—“Wake up in piss/I feel like shit/My legs and face are covered in zits/Sniff too much glue/Eat too much dope/My mind is wasted and my body can’t cope.” Imagine Zeke opening for Ruination with only a minute and a half on the clock. Quickly fill your keg cups now because this loud-ass party is going to get busted.
These guys clearly have a healthy sense of humor. For example, Cülo means “butthole” in Spanish, and their names are listed on the liner notes as “Jizz, Nasty, Cunt, and Shit.” (Real names: Nathan, John, Corey, and Sean. Research!) However, they are not ones to shy away from serious subject matter. On the last track on side A, “Neighborhood Watch,” they take aim at the visage of the suburban life they know so well—“I’m not a racist/I don’t say ‘Black’/I say ‘African American’/But stay out of my cul-de-sac!” They continue to address austere topics in the title track, a quick but impactful jam that rounds out this five-song 7” wherein the motives of the depressed pill-popping masses are questioned. “Everyone’s got toxic vision/Everyone’s got toxic life/Everyone just says, ‘Sorry’ for trying to up and die...Everyone I know is taking these pills!”
While their overall sound is such that it could easily get corralled into the all-encompassing label,“‘80s-style hardcore,” they have several subtle but noteworthy style shifts throughout their recorded material. For example, Nuke Abuse, while fast and abrasive, has some faint traditional punk elements. Whereas their second 7”, Military Trend showed them moving even more into the Greg Ginn-influenced vein of hardcore. Inasmuch, Toxic Vision injects a bit of the good old rock-n-roll in to the fold, all the while keeping the fire and intensity of their previous material intact.
Just so we’re clear; when I sang the praises of the suburbs earlier, I was speaking in terms of geographic locations churning out great punk rock bands. If you ask me, Cülo certainly falls into the great-punk-rock-band category. And Toxic Vision is a testament to that.
8.3 / 10
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