End It, Unpleasant Living (Flatspot Records, 2022)

I don’t often talk about lyrics in my reviews. I care about them, but I feel like most times they’re nothing to write home about.

A great lyricist can propel a project to astronomical heights for me. Akil Gosdey is one of those guys, and Unpleasant Living is one of those projects.

I love a lyricist who can write an intensely personal perspective to issues affecting the world around them. I also love when someone injects a bit of humorous levity into an angry tirade. Godsey can do those things and more. His work here reminds me of Brendan Rattigan’s Rival Mob lyrics, only instead of solely tackling scene politics, Godsey takes on income disparity, police corruption, religion and racism.

“Is there a god above? NO” isn’t revelatory prose, but the way it’s delivered, with the immediate gang vocal refrain, puts a huge smile on my face. That song, “L’appel du Vide” is humorous but highly personal. I’d recommend Godsey’s Forum of Passion interview as well as the podcast he cohosts—Up the Blunx—to get a bit more insight on his ideas.

Photo: Sean Reilly

Musically, Unpleasant Living makes a case for codifying Baltimore hardcore into a distinct sound. This is obviously indebted to Trapped Under Ice. Look at the between song samples—Black American music staples, cop dramas, bubblegum pop. Sound familiar?

Still not convinced? Consider the seamless guest spot on “New Wage Slavery” from Mr. TUI himself, Justice Tripp. I’m also catching a little bit of Turnstile melody towards the end of that song. I think it’s because Godsey can sing his ass off. 

There are a lot of bands, from Baltimore and elsewhere, going for this brand of groovy heaviness. End It does it right. They nail one element most imitators miss – the punk ethos. People forget how many sub 1:30 songs TUI have in their discography. Unpleasant Living only has one song over the 1:30 mark—2022’s mosh pit hit of the summer, “The Comeback." Everything else is “get in, get out fast."

This record is tough but it’s also clever. It’s not just for idiots in mesh shorts to give each other CTE. It’s also for jumping up and down in a circle and flinging yourself off precariously high surfaces. It has all the energy of early '80s hardcore, but also the fist flinging brutality of something like Crown of Thornz. We’re talking about a Flatspot Records release, after all.

Unpleasant Living falls very much in line with my personal taste, but who wouldn’t enjoy this? Do you like fast, energetic punk drumming? End It’s got you covered. Do you like heavy mosh parts? End It’s got you covered. If you don’t like either of those things, do you like hardcore music? I don’t think you do.

I can’t say enough about this EP, but I can’t say too much about it either. This shit whizzes by in eight white knuckled, teeth gritting minutes. I would have loved for the band to stretch it into a “full length” with four more songs, but End It are masters of leaving us wanting more. 

There’s not an ounce of fat on this record. I would be licking my plate clean if this was a meal, banging my silverware on the table and begging for seconds. This is the rare type of release I can listen to three times in a row without getting bored.

End It’s prior EPs were building towards something special, and this one nails the approach right into the nosebleeds at Camden Yards.

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