Bite Back: Not a Saint or a Savior

Chalk full of barrowing guitar tones and existential dread that plummet nose first into your ear canals, this EP from the San Diego based hardcore outfit Bite Back is a brutal encounter. Five blistering songs fill this EP with lyrics of having to cope with nihilism, depression, and anxiety complimented with pounding guitars and breakdowns reminiscent of the mental beatings such a mind deals with—it isn’t pretty.
The songs on this album are very grim—they cater to a very esoteric demographic with Austin Bolechowski’s straightforward vocal and lyrical delivery that paints the band for who they are. The EP opens with “Day By Day”—it starts with an intense buildup of guitars and drums over the closing monologue from the character Patrick Bateman from the film American Psycho. It all gives way to Josh Orellana’s high velocity drumming then the rest of the band jumps into the sea of despair with Bolechowski’s opening lyrics, “Always struggling day by day, can’t ever think of what to say, trying to keep my head held high, but I just count my failures every night.”
The EP continues on with hints of groove, thrash, and sludge metal built in on their hardcore foundation all while keeping on the themes of mental anguish. “Sinner” hurtles a plethora of riffs with alternating vocals that range from controlled yells to high pitched screams with hair-raising lyrics like “I’ve been thinking thoughts that’d make the devil want to kill himself!” “Stray Dog” (appropriate for the band’s name) delves into the isolation side of depression with reoccurring lyrics like “I’ll live on my own, I’ll die on my own, these motherfuckers couldn’t spend a god damn night all alone,” and “I’m a mutt with rotting teeth, decayed like my fathers’ before me!” but the most tumultuous lyrics are sung during the breakdown—“What the fuck do you know about pain? You never lost anything!”
The EP takes a two-and-a-half minute breather with “Lull”—a sluggish, more somber number with more melodious vocals that still doesn’t steer the album off course. After a brief pause it traverses into the closing track with Bolechowski bellowing its moniker “Numb!” “Numb” pummels to a close with a beatdown of everything in Bite Back’s musical arsenal with the final lyrics “No puedo ser fuerte, lo que me mata es mi mente!” (“I cannot be strong, what kills me is my mind!”)
Bite Back’s Not a Saint or a Savior is destructive and incredibly brutally honest—these boys don’t hesitate to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The lyrics sum up a lot of key themes with depression and anxiety and the music is the perfect match, stimulating feelings of a mind at war with itself.

Martial Law: Police State

Slamming with controversial issues ranging from police brutality, sexual assault, corrupt pharmaceutical corporations, and war crimes threaded together with metallic guitar riffs that pack a major blow, Police State is one of the best hardcore EPs I’ve heard in the past few years. I’ve had the extreme pleasure of seeing these guys perform in an Elk’s Lodge up in Ogden that my band at the time was playing, and I was immediately hooked—frontman Keyton Daniels had such a demanding stage presence with his vocals and his provocative ranting of all the issues that surrounded the band’s songs.

The EP begins fittingly enough with “Intro” that doesn’t wait for you to get settled, it wallops you in the face with pounding riffs that make you want to slam your head into oblivion. It traverses over into the song “Wake Up” with a rallying chorus in the introduction blatantly stated as “Wake the fuck up! Wake the fuck up now! It’s time for us to stop fucking around! Live for yourself not anyone else, live for yourself not someone else!” The song then continues into the subjects of people blindly agreeing to what they hear on any given media outlet and don’t have the audacity to think for themselves.

“Kill the Greek” expresses extreme hatred for fraternity members who think it’s okay to sexually violate anyone. “Bystander” is a 57 second, rally-inducing number that calls for taking the law in your own hands when you see injustice. My personal favorite “Cancer Inc.” calls out the fractured health industry and how doctors and pharmacists are making a profit off other people’s misery and sickness—there’s a conspiracy theory that doctors have discovered a cure for cancer but won’t distribute it to the masses because “each day you get more wealthy by prolonging death.”

Speaking of profit, “Authority” touches on another instance of Shadenfreude, those who get pleasure from bombing their enemies with clever lyrics like “Put another war on the credit card, the poor will rot until their thoughts are gone” and powerful backing vocals done by Jessica Newby of the band Casket. “Mouthrunner” focuses on the alleged keyboard warriors that use social media for ruining people’s lives. The closing, title track hammers out this EP fittingly enough with imagery of the increasing police brutality in this country with lyrical buildup of “a motherfucker with a gun decides my fate, fuck America the police state!” and charges headstrong into brutality with its breakdown topped off with some extreme guttural vocals from Andrew Hileman of the band I Am.

All summed up, Martial Law’s Police State is a torrential EP—its songs are short and to the point, its music is heavy and keeps you hooked, and its messages intensely blunt. Martial Law has the unfiltered hardline mentality of Slapshot, the politically draped lyricism of Rage Against the Machine, and the towering ferocity Expire. In a time where America is in a state of political duress, this is when political hardcore is looked to for guidance, and Martial Law is a band that needs to be heard.

Earth Tiger

“I had a vision I could fly around the world with a girl with blonde curls who swapped energy for pearls.” To anyone who visits Earth Tiger’s Soundcloud page, this will be the first thing you hear if you play their first track “Holiday.” Earth Tiger is a duo from New Zealand that doesn’t’ sound like your typical hip hop output—combining the flows of traditional rap with beats intertwining pop, rock, and electronic dance music. Their song’s infectious—the melodies will get stuck in your head until you have no choice but to play the songs again. While they only have two tunes available on their Soundcloud it’s more than enough to satisfy for the time being.

Earth Tiger was conceived on Christmas Eve around a campfire by friends Cruz Mathews and Tom Taylor who had a mutual love of old school hip hop. After collaborating with producer Alex Wildwood in a series of week-long recording sessions, the duo set up a home studio in a swamp house in the rainforest of Byron Bay. The natural surroundings of the rainforest invoked songs inspired by the energy it gave off. In their makeshift studio, they funneled their collection of earthly hip hop into an EP entitled Holiday set for release hopefully later this year. It is now in the mixing and mastering process via Nathan Sowter of La Petite Maison Studios.

The title track of the EP alone is an accurate representation of their music with its soothing beats with Mathews’ and Taylor’s smooth flows emulate the feeling of trekking through wilderness of the Down Under. The second track on their soundcloud that was released some months prior to recording the music of Holiday is the song “King Like Jordan.” While it doesn’t contain the same style of earthly ambience that “Holiday” does, it’s still just as catchy and laidback with a hook that goes “This my jam. This my jam. This, right here, my favorite jam.” The rest of the song consists of lyrics that express its listeners to stay motivated in exercising the mind, body, and soul.

To put it blatantly, Earth Tiger is straight up feel good music and as the first hip hop group I’ve heard out of New Zealand I pretty much got what I expected and then some. They may find themselves on the playlist of any outdoorsy types who go on nature hikes and attend the gym regularly.