(Self-released, cassette, CD, digital download)
Local hardcore-punks Reverser are stingy when it comes to personal details. The quartet's Facebook page does reveal the band members' names, but it's vague about where, exactly, in central Vermont they're from. It also does not say who plays what. Reverser describe themselves, curtly and mysteriously, as "Resurrecting dead space. Swallowing galaxies." A Bandcamp page for their new release (maybe their first?), Southern Claw is similarly sparse, listing only track names and engineering info. Reverser, it seems, prefer to let their music do the talking. Or, more accurately, the screaming.
Southern Claw, which was engineered by Vincent Freeman at Green Mountain Records and mixed and mastered by Julian Mazzola, is, to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish and short. Its six tracks collectively clock in right around 15 minutes. And they are some of the most pulverizing, vicious and exhausting 15 minutes you might ever spend with a record made in Vermont.
Reverser waste no time pounding the listener into submission. A half-second distorted guitar slide serves as a perfunctory intro before pummeling drums and psyche-shattering guitars overwhelm the speakers on opener "Born Again." Then there's the howling. Oh, the howling. "There is no way outta heeeere! / Just in case you were thinking twice," comes the anguished scream. Then, "I'm just waiting for the fog to clear / So I can save your worthless life." And that's just the first 10 seconds.
Sunny optimists may wish to look elsewhere for their musical fix. Reverser's doom and gloom is oppressive and unrelenting. "Flip the Hearse" is a double-barreled, double-bass-drum assault on being "condemned to wake up." It's an observation on the futility of the daily grind as seen through a meat grinder.
"Not a World" is a change of pace sonically, if not thematically. The song fuses melodic metal with harrowing hardcore. It's the most dynamically varied and compositionally adventurous of the EP's six cuts.
"Hanging From the Debt Ceiling" is a fiery sermon on economic inequality that ably captures the rage of the 99 percenters. On "When It Feeds," the band gorges on tasty time changes and breakdowns.
On the album's closing track, "Your Punishment Will Be Strange," Reverser reveal some personality beyond their typical aggro fury. The song is ferocious, but hidden within the rock-tumbler yowls is twisted dark humor — kinda like Jigsaw in the Saw flicks. Though still pitch-black and brutal, the song provides welcome respite from a thoroughly devastating EP.
Southern Claw by Reverser is available at reverservt.bandcamp.com starting Friday, June 19. The band plays a release show at 242 Main in Burlington on Sunday, June 28.