Though they weren’t selling out arenas or topping the charts, 2010 can be seen as a breakout year for Trash Talk. Eyes & Nines was garnering love from both sides of the fence, the band toured with the likes of Alexisonfire and played festival dates; they seemed poised to be the next big thing in hardcore. Yet, the discovery of Awake, the band’s newest EP, came as a bit of a shock to me. Maybe it was unexpected. Maybe I thought the band had started to fade out a bit in terms of staying power. It might sound strange, but the sheer unexpected nature of Awake, and its stronger, less abrasive textures, make this EP one of the more refreshing surprises this year.
While it won’t hinder the stage presence this band is notorious for, Trash Talk’s shift to a more punk-hearted sound is a noticeable, yet not too surprising change. Sounding removed from a track like “Explode,” Awake is at its heart gritty and straightforward, focusing more on crunching riffs and ripping vocals as opposed to breakneck tempos and tangled song structures. The title track gives us a huge chunk of time to curb the collective tension and figure out where the skateboard-ready drum beat will take us on this EP. Driving guitar lines push the track straight into a buzzfest ready for dancing and moshing alike. Perhaps not as impressive in the musicianship department, it sets the tone for five songs of blunt-force mayhem via consistent songwriting. Second track “Slander” ups the tempo as a hardcore anthem track, featuring bursts of uzi-drumming and vocal-led impact points in its barely-a-minute running time. “Blind Evolution” jumps backwards though, harping on catchy lines anchored in distortion to again show the punk rock side of this EP in full gear. A standout moment of the EP, this track features a raucous-causing slow-down slathered in an addicting guitar line – something you wouldn’t see coming until you’re smack in the middle of it.
The one-two ending of “Burn Alive” and “Gimme Death” showcases the best and worst of this EP. “Burn Alive” has a great riff to drive it, but insists on piling on the impact points throughout the track, causing it to seem confused in itself. Closer “Gimme Death” makes up for it though, as this doozy captures the re-worked timbre of Trash Talk in its strongest form. With punk-as-fuck guitars and anthemic vocals, this track ends the EP on a high note with brash emotion and strong structuring. It hurts a little bit to see them tone down the sound here, but you can’t deny how catchy and still aggressive a good portion of this EP comes off.
It might not be as jarring as Eyes & Nines and may not turn as many heads, but Awake is as refreshing as it is unexpected. This quartet may not feel the need to blister through tracks like they used to, but the result here is enough proof that Trash Talk don’t need to play super fast to get us all riled up.