Review: Hesitation Wounds Revives Hardcore Punk with ‘Chicanery’

If you have bemoaned the lame music that passes for hardcore punk these days, grab a copy of the latest album by Hesitation Wounds, Chicanery. A frenzy of feedback and screaming, Chicanery kicks other, longer records in the ass. This is no bloated modern rock opera. Chicanery follows old school hardcore ethics to a tee.

These songs get in, make their point, and get out. Every tune is less than three minutes long. In fact, if I’ve done my math correctly, the entire album is 11 minutes and one second long. Seven tracks in eleven minutes seems insanely fast in this century. But Chicanery is precisely as long as it needs to be. This is a stripped-down, lean production.

Vocalist Jeremy Bolm (Touché Amoré) runs headlong and arms flailing into political issues with his lyrics. He screams rather than sings, but the words are intelligible. Bolm may be furious but he needs to be understood. Drummer Thomas Cantwell (Gouge Away) and bassist Stephen LaCour (ex-Trap Them) barrel through the songs like they’re going downhill in a car with no brakes. Guitarist Neeraj Kane (The Hope Conspiracy) doesn’t have time for flashy solos, opting instead for distortion and reverb.

Like any good punk album, Chicanery is a ferocious mess. Bolm spits out phrases like “Depression is so passé when it’s not for sale,” over Kane’s raging guitar. What Chicanery is not, interestingly enough, is lo-fi. This doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a garage or a men’s bathroom at a fast food joint. The result is a simple recording, with everything right where it needs to be. Nothing feels lost in the mix.

Deftly ravaging the ideals that hold conservative America together, such as self-aggrandization, social media, televangelism, and the disaffection thrust upon anyone who doesn’t fall in line, Chicanery is a terrifically vicious album. Hesitation Wounds may be marketed as a punk supergroup, but they sound like they’ve been playing grimy clubs nonstop for about twenty years. This a solid album, packing more music and meaning into the length of a smoke break than some bands accomplish during their entire careers. It’s encouraging to realize that ‘punks not dead’ isn’t just a slogan on a Hot Topic t-shirt. Chicanery is some of the best modern hardcore punk out there right now, and fans of the genre need to add this short shot of thunder to their collection as soon as possible.

Hesitation Wounds’ album, Chicanery, is available on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, and wherever fine music is sold.

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