Guardrails, “Flag of the Enemy” (2020)

Photo: Caleb Good

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the hardcore punk legacy of Richmond, Virginia. My standard hyperbole not withstanding, the city has always been an unquestionably steady pillar in the world of hardcore and punk.

Four Walls Falling, Avail, Strike Anywhere, Count Me Out, Down to Nothing, Government Warning, Direct Control, Bracewar, Naysayer, Break Away, and countless others have long fortified one of the country’s most compelling juxtapositions.

Despite the long shadow cast by Monument Avenue’s bronze statues upholding the racist old guard, there’s long been a rich history of politically charged hardcore dead set on assuring the old order is left crumbling. 

The Capital City has another upstart to contend with, this time in the form of hardcore band Guardrails. Formed in the final moments of pre COVID-19 gleeful normalcy, they still managed a ripping 2-song demo and handful of shows.

Keeping the embers stoked, the band is back with an incendiary track entitled “Flag of the Enemy.” Blazing enough to burn ol’ Dixie down, the song is available everywhere, though best snagged on Bandcamp.

All proceeds will be funneled directly to Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in RVA, helping to plant seeds in their own backyard. 

Funnily enough for a band named Guardrails, this shit careens wildly and violently in the way fast hardcore should. Bookended with the warm crackling of vinyl and sound clips from “This Land is Your Land," the fleeting serenity is quickly serrated with scuzzy bass and rampaging snare.

Soon enough, the Woody Guthrie sample feels oddly perfect, as Guardrails embrace the same hyper local and folksy anti fascism, albeit in the name of fast and burly hardcore. Sonically, the whole feels as if it’s willing, if not destined, to go off track at any moment.

Vocals aren’t so much sung as they are breathlessly barked and, at the minute mark, there’s an absolute ravenous passage that doesn’t suffer fools gladly. There’s a bludgeoning and street ready “A-C-A-B” chant that throws down the gauntlet with vicious plain speak. 

These Guardrails won’t prevent accidents. They’re more likely to throw you into the ravine. Fucking rad band, y’all. Get on it. 

Tagged: guardrails