The South African hardcore scene is one that is shrouded in mystery. The bands within the scene play in the shadows while the spotlight focuses on more radio-friendly bands (as it always does). Despite this lack of exposure and support, it manages to chug along and produce phenomenal bands – like the Cape Town-based hardcore outfit Peasant. They made waves in the hardcore scene after being one of the bands to open for Comeback Kid when they toured South Africa. After this, they launched into the studio to record their debut (and self-released) EP Dead Hand.
The opening track “Ender” leads you into the EP with a soaring guitar riff that is underlaid by a distorted bass line and a distorted guitar riff. This builds up your suspense as you wait in steady anticipation for the breakdown and you know it’s coming when you hear the sound of that heavily distorted whammy pedal. Straight after that, the pits open and the song launches into what can only be described as the musical equivalent of a sucker punch. “Ender” sticks to the traditional hardcore ethic of short songs that pack an enormous punch. It starts and ends quickly but leaves your ears ringing. The band spews lyrics tinged with bitterness as they sing about being shunned by a place that once used to embrace them.
Peasant jumps straight from “Ender” into the monster of a track that is “Backslider”. The band bellows criticism about those hardcore religious types. You know the type, the ones that condemn everybody who does anything remotely opposite to them. It is an honest and well-justified criticism against the perversion of religious dogma. A viscous and fast-paced wall of snarling guitars and bass lines add to the aggression and anger present on the song.
Their self-titled track “Peasant” begins with a soaring intro populated by razor sharp guitar riffs and a moderately paced drum beat. It then launches from this into guitar riffs that chug in the background while the drummer lazily plays. This accompanies faded-out screaming as the band launches into an attack on the pathetic tax system of South Africa.
“Done” embraces the chugging guitar riffs and crashing drums of the typical hardcore sound while being a tentative attack upon a failing government that uses the excuse of Apartheid to explain away all of the nation’s problems. These problems are a result of the government’s inability to do their job, but that is a story for a different day.
The penultimate and title track “Dead Hand” maintains that sound of chugging guitar riffs. It is the band’s final chance to display their criticism of the society they live in, a hard-hitting track that is over quickly but leaves a lasting impression on you. The lyric of “In a world where what’s wrong is right / We have lost the will to love” will stay with you for a while.
These plucky Cape Town upstarts present a brilliant debut EP that rivals the sound of hardcore legends like Comeback Kid and Defeater. Peasant is a band that is relatively new to the scene and hasn’t had a lengthy period of time to develop their sound. There is no patriotic bias here. If I didn’t know they were from Cape Town, I’d say they were some big time international band. This is a truly brilliant sign of things to come.