Review Summary: It just wants to hurt you.
Have you ever seen that Tarintino flick, Reservoir Dogs? Granted, that's definitely an obnoxious, craft beer college hipster way to start a review, but have you seen it? You think about the perfect heist, the one that absolutely never happened in that movie. A good heist is short, shock and awe. Flawless. Efficient. Violent if necessary, or maybe even when not necessary. You have to prove a point. You come, you take everything, and you leave, all before anyone has time to even process what's happened. James Trejo, the creative mastermind behind this one man punk dynamo (live performances are done with a band), has perfected this method with horrific precision. He is a student of hardcore. This feral vision, Dying Breed, squeezes you for all you're worth and unrepentantly leaves you in a puddle of yourself, bleeding out.
This past summer, I had long been a fan of both Civilized (another excellent act Trejo drums for), Vile Gash, and City Hunter, all from the bustling underground record label Youth Attack! (founded by Mark McCoy of Charles Bronson fame). It was easy to consider these bloodthirsty sounds to be logical evolutions of fast hardcore punk from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Loving the music and ever curious, I elected to delve deeper into the back catalogue to find what other punk bangers I could be blessed with. Lo and behold, I discovered this gem from 2018. Better late than never, as the adage goes.
Trejo proves himself to be an absolute monster on this outing: a cut above even fellow Denver, Colorado cohorts. Chainsaw power chord flurries grind the listener to nothing. Rippling, muscular, but still startlingly deft drumming blindsides with heavy d-beats, machine gun rolls, and thrash beats, akin to an alley mugging. Thick bass gags and suffocates, and animalistic barks taunt belligerently as life flees the body. This is nihilistic ***ing hardcore punk grown from the roots of the genre, driven to it’s logical conclusion in a musty trunk. The production is as raw as one should expect but all instruments are discernable in the murk. That said, there are no frills present in this sinewy ball of cacophony and distortion. This record is a cornered pitbull, bred to fight. Lean. Mean. It’s not contemplative or even political; it just wants to hurt you.
Most songs are like “Line in the Sand”, “Blackout Rage”, or “Battery”, blitzing by in a blur. To add dynamism to the onslaught, more mid-paced and groovy cuts such as “Repulsed”, “All for Nothing”, and “Filed Down” are selectively placed through the tracklisting. The first wields a gore-soaked verse riff that captures a downright sinister mood like few punk songs can. The latter rides a slower d-beat drum pattern, with bouncy chords to give the tune a rare air of flair and style while Trejo snarls “Get the *** away from me!”
One might argue that Trejo only really writes two songs. However, with fifteen tracks at a runtime of only ten minutes and forty seconds, this “LP’s” well-tested formula lacks the time to even approach staleness. Even admittedly edgy and potentially juvenile lyrics like “I’m on the prowl, the last thing you’ll feel is the edge of my knife” or “Jaded, empty, there’s nothing left. I’ll see all of your faces at the end of a bat” do nothing to hamper the intent put forth.
This is punk rock used like a weapon, a hefty gun. With a blast, it robs you of your corporeal form and leaves you a restless spirit. You’re a masochistic spirit, though. One that want to live once more, just so Dying Breed can kill you again. I, for one, hope Cadaver Dog never stops killing. Next time, I hope it hurts even worse.