The Singles Collection - Herds, Iron Age, Cult Ritual

By Jason Jackowiak

This week on the Singles Collection, we're delving into some of the best hardcore America has to offer. While everything on offer is, in one way or another, indebted to the DC scene -- whether it be aesthetically, sonically or just in terms of pure work ethic -- each of this week's bands has taken those original sounds and ideals and transformed them into something definitively their own.

Our first offering this week comes from Milwaukee's Herds, a formidable quartet sprung from the ashes of several notable units, Charles Bronson, Get Rad and the incredibly underrated Seven Days of Samsara among them. Hot on the heels of their debut single on Deer Healer, this self-titled EP on Fashionable Idiots is a 5-song street fight filled with barbaric double time rhythms, virulent, politically-minded lyrical diatribes and no shortage of lacerating guitar lines. Having already done their pedigree proud a mere seven songs into their career, the band stand poised to eclipse even their own storied heritage, slashing and burning their way towards becoming Milwaukee's best HxC export ever.

Next up we have the latest from Austin firebrand Iron Age, "The Way is Narrow" b/w "Satori Pt. 1" on the venerable Painkiller imprint. A unique take on the modern hardcore idiom, the A-Side floats in the ether between mosh-heavy breakdowns and desert-scraping stoner rock, its mid-range vocal bark accentuated by storms of Kyuss-y guitar swells and an understated rhythm that allows ample room for the song to waft its way into the stratosphere. On the flip, the band turn in their fantastic deconstruction of the Flower Travellin' Band's "Satori Pt. 1", which somehow manages to capture the freewheeling psychedelic spirit of the original, albeit while injecting it with doses of post-millennial venom and enough ranked masses of searing guitar to crush an 18-wheeler into a pancake.

Finally this week, we have the new self-titled EP from Florida's reclusive Cult Ritual on the always intriguing Drugged Conscience imprint. Officially the band's third self-titled effort (referred to mainly as just Third or The Manson Girls EP), this three-song platter sounds as if it were recorded in a dumpster, and knowing the band, it well might have been. Its questionable fidelity aside (it skirts the edges of being no-fi), the material here is fantastic, especially the breakneck double shot A-side "Guiltless" and "Electric Depression", a pair of Poision Idea-indebted scorchers whose guitars flail like wounded hummingbirds and vocals appear to have been recorded on a dictaphone as the whole mess careens towards certain demise. On the flip, the band completely destroy Sonic Youth's "8/9/69", turning it into a hissing pile of out of tune guitar wank, wandering vocal histrionics and more bad attitude than a Sturgis rally. Like all of the band's output thus far, this might be a bit tough to track down, but not to worry, if you are itching to hear their particular brand of plague, the band has put everything they've done thus far up for download at their blog.

That's all she wrote for this week's installment of the Singles Collection, but don't fret, as we've got some real barn-burners lined up for next week. So make sure to tune in, same bat time, same bat channel.

The Singles Collection - Herds, Iron Age, Cult Ritual