The first hardcore bands must have been completely nuts.
Think about it. These bands were made of people who looked at the extremity of punk, with all its in-your face anger and impromptu piercings and thought “You know, this doesn’t go far enough. This city deserves a better class of criminal.” That’s like looking at Channing Tatum and thinking you could be a better male stripper or looking at Kim Jong-Un and thinking you could be a better egotistical asshole. It’s a mix of ambition and madness and you’d better succeed or you’ll look like an idiot. Well, with the Kim Jong-Un thing you’ll probably look like an idiot either way, but that’s beside the point. The point is that hardcore was a rousing success, and that first generation of mad visionaries paved the way for a musical genre that has not only survived, but percolated through the consciousness of the heavy music scene to create a system of subgenres and derived genres that looks like the royal family tree. And even today, straight-up hardcore has lost none of its power, as Back Down have demonstrated on their new EP, Pushing Forward.
At its core hardcore is still all about delivering an aural beatdown, and leaving nobody in any doubt that somewhere out in the world there are things you’re pissed at. And you’re going to express that by shouting at them and playing steel-plated riffs. I can respect the approach, especially when it sounds this good. Back Down have nailed the core sound of hardcore (sorry). The riffs have that satisfyingly meaty tone that is so necessary to good hardcore and they are all written with impact in mind, from the lightning-quick chuggathons to the pieces designed to show off the almost supernatural sustain the band are ekeing out of their instruments. Added to this is an ability to write satisfyingly boppable and catchy breakdowns, a vital ingredient in the hardcore secret sauce. It’s all incredibly well executed, little changes and twists constantly thrown into the mix to keep the listener interested and the music far above the typical hardcore. The aggression is underpinned by a drum performance that is in constant control of the song dynamics and topped with punchy, almost unhealthily enraged vocals that make the EP’s 20 minutes an experience perfectly suited to help you work out some anger issues. Or develop some, depending on your disposition. Regardless, Pushing Forward is a nicely crafted collection of crunchy fun that gives me high hopes for what Back Down will come out with next. The title track is embedded below and you can listen to the full EP on Back Down’s Bandcamp.