As of this moment, writing this blurb about their new album Mutt, Texas rippers Total Abuse are my favorite hardcore band. I was gushing over their self-titled debut that came out a while back on Deranged after getting totally enamored with their atavistic throwback to circa-1984 thrash, their infatuation with the writings of Peter Sotos, and the stark black and white visuals on their album and 7" sleeves that referenced both the primitive apocalyptic collage art of early American hardcore and the blunt monochrome look of old British industrial cassettes. Seemed like it was custom tailored to my taste in hardcore, a negatory, nihilistic blast of primitivist fury that feels dead serious, driven by murderous desire and staring at the world with an unblinking eye. Not to mention a fiercely noisy edge that felt like I was hearing some as-yet undiscovered psychotic hardcore band from the 80's being blasted out of shredded speakers and malfunctioning PA equipment.
Their last album and the Sex Pig 7" (the title of which is another direct Sotos reference) are still highly recommended to fans of psycho HC and get constant play around here, but their latest Lp Mutt just fucking blew me through the door. On the surface, the album is a direct continuation of the debut. The songs are once again short, brutal blasts of ancient hardcore played with maximum venom and power. The music and everything within it feels as if it's slathered in feedback, as if the band is hurling themselves against a wall of busted, squealing amplifiers. Songs like "Eunuch", "Fluid Exchange", "Buried", and "Caligula" mostly blast out brutal speed attacks somewhere in between Void and Negative Approach, infested with screaming high-end amp howl. Then the band shifts into a staggering dirge that stops the album dead in it's tracks, like when they stumble into the spastic noise and damaged Flipper/Kilslug-esque sludge of "Secret Passage I" and "Pure". There's nothing anthemic in the vocals; the singer delivers his hungry, desperate howl into the storm, his desperation syncing with the band into a wave of droning power. The apex of the album is the complete collapse into noise that comes with "Secret Passage II", a savage wall of guitar squall, squealing agonized feedback, and avalanche drum clatter. The aesthetics of Broken Flag applied to brutal, stripped down American hardcore.
The b&w fanzine style booklet that comes with the Lp features the lyrics, an integral part of Total Abuse's art. The lyrics are obviously influenced by Sotos's writings, the clipped, blunt, brutal lyrics expressing themes of total control, nihilism, loathing, oppression, depravity, violence and desire, directly and without glamour. It's an exploration of hunger that has more in common with Dom Fernow's work in Prurient than anything going on right now in hardcore.