As someone who recently ventured backward into ‘80s and ‘90s punk, it’s always invigorating to find a contemporary band who successfully pays homage to such golden decades of the genre. A group that has taken the modern hardcore scene by storm in less than five years of existence, Angel Du$t revives the sounds of acts ranging from Bad Brains and Bad Religion to Nirvana and the Pixies. It’s a delicious combination — one that has progressed from their debut’s juicy jolt to an absolute sugar rush on their sophomore disc. The so-called Baltimore “supergroup”, consisting of members from Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile, fuzzes up their sound on Rock the Fuck on Forever, an aptly titled LP that’s as hectic as it is catchy.
The album’s first song, “Toxic Boombox” is a straight-up dance anthem, the only thing separating it from radio rock being thick, fast-paced guitars and yelled vocals. Producer Will Yip, known for his recent work on emo revival records from Title Fight and La Dispute, uniquely stylized the songs’ textures, ultimately helping separate the new sound from the compact rage of A.D. The results are intriguing, as each track has a luscious overcoat of fluffed-up guitars and vocal harmonies. Moving on from the opener, “Ready 2 Receive U” makes sure its title is remembered by the end of its two-minute runtime. Their first release hinted at a lot of the music that came before them, and Angel Du$t only ups the ante on Forever. “Upside Down” is caught in the ‘90s, with acoustic guitars shadowing its gliding instrumentation. The addition of pop and rock aspects is still counterbalanced by the band’s punk core, as “Hurt You Bad” and “Rectify” are basically Bad Brains reworks.
Apart from the depth of influences they add to the mix, what tends to be Angel Du$t’s greatest redeeming quality is their ability to write a memorable song. Such potential was evident on A.D., with “Stepping Stone” ending up as one of 2014’s best hardcore singles, but it’s furthered by the amount of versatility and artistic craft the quartet brings to the table on album two. “Bad Thing” backs vocalist Justice Tripp with choral hums to form a sweet slow-rocker, while “Rectify” does the same with echoing guitar solos and an earful of dual riffs.
The record’s last six tracks are characterized by a bit more variety than the first seven, making an otherwise weaker half of the album fairly interesting. Ambient guitar interlude “Cool Inside You” bleeds its way into “Somebody Else”, a lyrical firestorm that features Tripp rapping in front of rapid, reverberating strums. In the track, the vocals and instrumentation coalesce to form the record’s most furious burst of energy. The incorporation of saxophone on closer “Stranger Things” stretches the boundaries of hardcore punk, and it sends the message that Angel Du$t is far from done expanding their sound — and far from done rocking, too.
Rock the Fuck on Forever is a bold title for an album, one that must be backed up by 100% killer tunes. And as much as A.D. can keep up with its follow-up, it’s far surpassed in terms of quality thanks to impeccable songwriting and pleasing aesthetic. Throwing more musical diversity into the mix and having Yip add his own production touches, Forever is not only an improvement, it’s also one of the year’s best hardcore releases. As Pop Wig Records states, the LP’s title isn’t a statement, it’s a command. Fortunately for the Baltimore quartet, their command for listeners to go out and rock doesn’t need much stressing, as it should be automatic by the time people hear this record. Quite simply, it rules. If someone tells you punk is dead, go shove this collection of songs in their face. It may change their mind.
Hardcore/Punk | Pop Wig Records