If you’re not in, you’re out. So says the mission statement of one Sore Ear Collective. The Rochester-based label is responsible for a smattering of the nascent decade’s best slabs of wax, be it long player or the short, sharp blasting variety that we’ve got on tap for todays exclusive.
The eponymously titled EP Hard to Know is a lean and mean-as-fuck half dozen songs and one of the year’s first essential listens. Sharing a zip code with their record label, the Flower City punks first took shape, as many did, during March of 2020. Nuff said on that bygone nightmare of an era, the relative newcomers boast a big resume.
Hard to Know is composed of current members of Achilles, Coming Down, and Bad Bloom, the ex-members list is a battery of heaters. A veritable who’s who of hardcore heavies, the band has also served time in How We Are, Devotion, Surroundings, and Building on Fire.
Roll call isn’t as, uhhh, hard to know as I’d imagined. We’ve got Rory VanGrol on vocals, Adam Vernick and Rob Antonnuci on guitars, Jon Garwood on Bass, and Ian MacNeil on drums.
The EP is a crash course of brutalizing brevity. Clocking in we’ll shy of 12 minutes, Hard to Know excels on a time crunch. Opener “Supression” fittingly eschews their speedier material for a, well, suppressed and stompy intro. It has all the touchstones of a set opener, conjuring a slew of kids scrambling to the front for an inevitable pile on.
The track “Hard to Know” by the band Hard to Know on the EP Hard to Know is up next. A veritable saga by their standards, it’s an enthralling three minutes that finds its drama vacillating between early oughts hardcore a la Bridge Nine and something a bit more epic. Avoiding the pitfalls of positivity that Youth Crew revivalism spawned, Hard to Know lives in the darkness and trades between nihilism and the burning desire to overcome. It builds and boils over with equal measure.
Highlights abound elsewhere, but between the the full throttle fast hardcore of “Slow Down” and the creepy crawl of bass that opens the final track “Innocence Fades”, you’d be wise to just snag this and digest ithe damn thing whole.
Fans of big timers like Fixation, True Love, Time and Pressure, Berthold City, and Chemical Fix take note. This was ready made for y’all. Now ya know Hard to Know, ya know?
The Hard to Know EP is available across all streaming outlets. Stay tuned to Sore Ear Collective for more information for the physical release release date.
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