Many trends and fads have come and gone within the world of hardcore. It’s hard to keep track of, and even harder in the community, to know who you really connect with and makes you feel like an alien. But one institution that has remained fairly true and consistent is the coalition of straight edge kids in the scene.
As much as the hardcore scene has progressed in terms of acceptance of the straight edge, it still can be a polarizing label. But regardless of that, the music has always been some of the most impassioned and hard hitting hardcore.
Birmingham, Alabama's No Cure is without a doubt one of the standout straight edge hardcore bands I’ve come across recently.
Not only does this band carry the straight edge flame with as much power and venom as the legendary Earth Crisis did in the '90s, but they also come with an even harder sound. Mixing death metal, black metal, and heavy hardcore, No Cure was born during the pandemic and has since recorded and released their debut EP, …For the Stainless Steel. It's seven tracks of brutal straight edge revenge for the increasingly bitter straight edge (and adjacent) hardcore kids.
The mixture of death metal with hardcore is nothing new with the ever growing harmony between the two genres but No Cure stands out with their breakdown-heavy death metal and guttural vocals espousing straight edge ideals. It’s a rare combination for me, sure plenty of straight edge bands have been influenced by such genres, but rarely does the band actually boast such a grimey and all around crushing sound that the death metal genre provides.
No Cure looks and sounds like a metal band and it’s this that drove me towards their music, especially when I heard their first single, “Laceration Divine,” which begins with a fast and grinding guitar riff backed by Blathye’s screams that remind me of Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto.
I had the pleasure of getting to chat with members Blaythe Steuer (vocals) and Jake Murnane (guitar) about the EP, how the band came together and the plans they have for it as well as some appreciation for the straight edge scene.
When and how did No Cure come together?
Blaythe Steuer (vocals): Aesop, our guitar player, and I have known each other for years and have been involved in the Birmingham scene for awhile, he was in like seven bands all at one time which is a bit concerning. One day he hit me up about doing vocals for a Full of Hell style project he was doing, normally I’m a guitar player so that was kind of interesting to me.
After that, we were messing around a little bit and were like, “We should do a different style project and be straight edge about it." I then grabbed Dewey, who played drums in my last band. I’ve toured with Jake a fair bit and he lives in Nashville, which is only like three hours away, so I knew he was the guy.
Jake Murnane (guitar): Also I’m straight edge so that was my main qualification [laughs].
Blaythe: Yeah, he plays bass and is straight edge, though, to be fair, he’s also a full-on photographer and there’s a lot of value in that. Both Jake and Aesop have Earth Crisis tattoos, which just had to happen.
Going Into this project, what were some of your main musical influences?
Blaythe: We all come from very different musical backgrounds but there is a lot of Foundation, there’s also a lot of war metal influence like the band Revenge, and then, of course, Earth Crisis and the classics. A bunch of dope metalcore from the '90s and early '00s is in there too. Lotta death metal and even Blasphemy as well, Deicide.
That’s the impression I got when listening to the EP. It has a distinctively death metal sound, which was rare for me to hear in the straight edge scene.
Blaythe: When we walked into this we said, “We’re gonna be a metal band, but we’re gonna be straight edge,” and I don’t know if that’s for anyone but us. We’re all hardcore kids at heart and much of my touring has been with hardcore bands.
Hardcore energy is the backbone, it’s death metal riffs but hardcore progression, and yeah, I’m screaming like a metal singer. But I’m trying to make it work within a hardcore presentation, if that makes any sense? Because who piles on for the mic at Cannibal Corpse?
Tell me a bit about the No Cure writing process, and also, how were …For the Stainless Steel sessions like?
Blaythe: Aesop wrote most of the riffs and I wrote some but I was mostly involved in arrangements and such. He’d come over to my place, put together a bunch of riffs and make midi versions of them like a metalcore band would and then send them to everyone and fine tune it a little bit later.
Then we all got together and came out to a cabin in the woods in November, brought a bunch of mics and two audio interfaces we had that weren’t even sync’d up. So, if it sounds like it was recorded in the woods of Alabama, it’s because it absolutely was. There’s tempo and tuning issues, but it’s cool because it sounds the way it would at a show.
Jake: That’s what I like most about it, just how raw it is and everything we do is completely in house. We recorded it, we did the artwork for it, we released it ourselves.
Did you get anyone to do the mixing or was it all you guys?
Blaythe: That was Dewey, he did all the mixing.
Jake, what were some of the things you were listening to when you went into this recording?
Jake: I don’t have much say in the writing process but a lot of my influences and things I want to hear when I play are like Harm's Way and Foundation styled sounds. Kind of metal, kind of hardcore but not really “metalcore.” In the death metal realm, I just really like to mix it up rather than stick to one thing.
Are there any specific lyrics on the EP that really stand out to you and are favorites of yours?
Blaythe: We have a workers rights song on the EP and the first line on it is, “I’m gonna make the fucking news!” Pretty abrasive stuff. There’s no way to describe it without sounding like some generic Reddit post but there’s a lot of bad shit going on in the workforce and we’re all young and have to pay rent. The gap between me and the people I see sleeping on the streets when I go to work everyday is becoming thinner and thinner.
Blaythe, what were some of your lyrical and vocal influences?
Blaythe: When I started writing lyrics, I was like, “Wow! I really have nothing to say. Everything’s been said before, so why am I doing this?” Then I realized I do have a lot to say and I felt a lot of growth in that period. As far as lyrical inspiration, I honestly don't really know. There are some metaphorical lyrics but many of them are just this happened or I observed this and here’s how I feel about it all. I also think to myself, “This would sound really tough,” and just put that down there.
I did listen to a lot of I Killed the Prom Queen when I was younger, and that’s actually how I found out about Earth Crisis, through watching them talk about them in interviews, which is a strange transition. I knew I didn’t wanna write lyrics like them because they’re all very sad and I don’t think we need another white guy saying, “Oh my God, I hate myself.”
Being straight edge, how did you guys want that to define the identity of the band? Did you want to avoid being militant about it?
Blaythe: I’ve been straight edge since I was 14, I’ve never smoked a cigarette and it’s been dope. Truthfully, we’ve all seen what addiction does to people and the people that are around it. There’s definitely greater conversations about mental health happening now, but for me in this band I just wanted to express that being straight edge is great and let people know what’s worked for me.
I would like to contribute to that culture because I feel like I’ve avoided a lot of pitfalls other young adults have and there’s benefit in talking about that without talking down to people. But, if I grew up in the '90s, when militant crews were the thing, then I’m sure I’d feel differently.
I will say though that my main touring job I do right now is tour managing Sanguisugabogg and I’m pretty much the only straight edge guy on that team. So you gotta have some depth to what you stand for.
What’s the No Cure plan for the future?
Jake: We’re gonna have tapes at the first three shows we’re playing and we’ve had a couple shirts that’ll be available and then the leftovers will go up on Bandcamp. So far, that’s where we’re at. We do want to play more and more and hit the ground running and take advantage of everybody’s attention at the moment.
Blaythe: We’ve talked about playing out in Texas a lot because Dewey has all of that stuff on lock out there and we’d love to play out there as soon as possible. We’d just love to do some stuff with other straight edge bands and maybe some things with non-straight edge bands, preferably the former.
How about a No Cure East Coast trip?
Blaythe: We’d definitely wanna get up there too!
Jake: I absolutely wanna get up to my hometown again and play up there, that’d be so great to play in Syracuse where so many great straight edge bands came from.
You legit can’t throw a stone in Syracuse without hitting someone who was a part of all that straight edge stuff or still is, which makes me proud to be from there.
What are some newer straight edge hardcore bands you’re really into right now?
Jake: I fucking love Inclination. They’re absolutely one of the sickest bands out there right now. Orthodox, of course, XWeaponX, Contention, and Magnitude are all amazing bands.
Blaythe: Magnitude is so great, they have that old-school sound but with an annoying snare, which is great. Also, Jake said all the bands I was going to say, so there you go.
Anybody you would like to shout out at the end here?
Blaythe: Aesop Mongo and Duncan Baldnewey. There’s some great bands in the Southeast like Apprehend, they’re all very young, very excited and very good. They kinda sound like you’re gonna steal from Wal-Mart, so that’s awesome. Joyboy from Birmingham, Bluhd from Huntsville, and a bunch of my friends are starting bands. The Alabama scene is really amazing right now and not enough people know that right now.
Jake: It’s the South’s best kept secret. Also, I wanna shout out this band called Distend, Circuit Circuit that I owe a shoutout to.
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